Education is a priority for most parents, ensuring their child has a solid academic foundation to help them succeed. It can be a huge financial drain with parents struggling to find funds to ensure their children receive the best possible education. Some families are able to—and do—invest large sums of money into private schooling, even as early as elementary school.

While a strong education and a college degree are necessary to succeed in many industries, many colleges and potential employers look for well-rounded youth, not just those who excel academically. What makes your child stand out from the crowd among his or her fellow graduates beyond standardized test scores and GPA’s?

For many it is the skills they learn at summer camp. The experiences they share, the memories they make and the character and grit they develop help make our campers stand out. Summer camp gives your child an advantage by facilitating an advanced understanding of life skills that are not always included within the traditional educational experience. These skills are what can make the difference between being a successful candidate or not, as well as having enough self-awareness to recognize a career that taps into your child’s interests and aptitudes.

Summer camp is itself an education: a social education. Our YMCA program provides campers with experiences to learn communication, collaboration, creativity and leadership through daily interactions within a diverse camp community. It is within the village-like atmosphere of a well-run summer camp that children, teens and young adults can explore and learn the social skills that will lead them to future success. It is in this environment that campers are encouraged to nurture personal attributes that 21st Century employers seek, including self-control, critical thinking, optimism and perseverance. Through a variety of adventurous activities campers bond with their cabin mates, share and celebrate their successes, the milestones, the challenges overcome, and the joy of trying something new. They support each other in times of need, when their first, second or even third attempt at something new is unsuccessful, using their failures as a springboard to try a different approach to the same goal. Whether in failure or success, cabin groups face these issues together, and become a stronger group with stronger individuals as a result. Ultimately, we help kids become teens who become adults with grit and determination that is not always achievable through traditional schooling and its standardized testing and pressures of report card grading.

So add to the investment you’ve already made in your child’s education. Sending your child to summer camp now will help turn out a young adult who sets goals, works through challenges and ultimately finds future success at college, and in life. YMCA resident camp—it’s the best summer education a kid can get.