Summers in Ottawa can seem short and the key to making the most of it is to fill kids’ days with adventure, fun, fresh air… and lots of PLAY.
According to HIGH FIVE®, Canada’s quality standard for children’s programs, play lets children shape their environment using their imaginations. With an emphasis on fun and cooperation in the right setting, play is integral for the development of motor and social skills, cognitive function, and creativity. Children learn by doing, so it is important for the adults in their lives to promote opportunities for both active play and risky play. When children play with purpose and in a variety of settings, wonderful things can happen.
“(Risky play is) thrilling and exciting play where children engage in risk without certainty,” says Dr. Mariana Brussoni, an academic scientist at the BC Children’s Hospital and an advocate for risky play.
Through risky play, children develop self-confidence, resilience, and risk-management skills. By developing these skills, studies have shown that engaging in risky play actually reduces the risk of injury.
As a HIGH FIVE® accredited organization, Dovercourt has committed to providing purposeful, risky play as a priority. It’s built right into every summer camp program plan! It might not be obvious but if you look carefully you will see it.
Risky play does not mean putting children at risk. It means allowing children to climb when they might fall, go fast when they might crash, play near danger without getting too close, or wander when they might get lost.
What this means, according to Brussoni, is that children are given “the opportunity to figure out for themselves what’s comfortable for them, and what they can do”.
On the rock climbing wall, it means that a child who makes it to the top is celebrated equally with a child who makes it up just three feet. It’s their choice how high they want to climb.
It means that inside the building or in the park, children are allowed to walk from point A to point B with a friend knowing they will have to remember the way there, and the way back, on their own. Or getting to light the campfire during overnight camp.
It means allowing children to choose their own level of challenge without grown-ups deciding how high they should climb, or how fast they should go.
Dovercourt Camp staffers of all ages also know that the best way to enjoy the summer is not only to let the kids play – but to play with them!