Camps that promote courage

Develop inner strength and confidence, and learn the value of facing fear

Courage is:
• Willingness and ability to face fears and try new things
• Tolerance for uncertainty
• Social confidence

“Camps foster courage,” says Sarde Matti, in part because “[they don't have] the added pressure of performance that might accompany a more traditional, academic setting.” Below the listings, learn more from registered social worker Matti, parents and campers discussing the importance of camp to the development of courage. Read more




List of camps and programs that help kids grow in courage

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  • Dance (multi)
  • Visual arts (multi)
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  • Academic / Tutoring
  • Leadership
  • Science (multi)


FEATURED

InterVarsity Pioneer Camp Alberta   

Rocky Mountain House; Sundre

  • Traditional (multi activity)
  • Overnight Camp

Pioneer Camp Alberta is a Christian summer camp with two beautiful locations in Sundre & Rocky Mountain House, AB. Get ready for exploration, adventure, creation, challenge, growth, skill development, and of course, fun! Read more...

  • Ages 5 to 19
  • Coed, Girls, Boys
  • from $79
wildernessouttrippingwildernessskillsarcherybasketballcanoeingaquaticshikinghorsebackridingequestrianrockclimbingswimmingtraditionalmultiactivityovernightcampcoedallgirlsallboys795-19Rocky Mountain HouseSundreOnlineAlberta2021-07-012021-08-01
FEATURED

Pedalheads Bike, Swim and Sport   

Throughout Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec (140)

  • Sport: Cycling
  • Day Camp, Program

Pedalheads offers bike, swim, and trail programs to families across Canada. Pedalheads helps kids develop life skills, confidence, and independence through fun, safe, and engaging instruction. Read more...

  • Ages 2 to 12
  • Coed
  • from $199
cyclingsportsinstructionalandtrainingsportssportmulticyclingaquaticsdaycampprogramclasscoed1992-12Bathurst Manor/Clanton Park, TorontoBayview Village, TorontoBloor West Village, TorontoDon Mills, TorontoEast York, TorontoForest Hill, TorontoHumber Valley Village, TorontoLansing , TorontoLawrence Manor, TorontoLeaside, TorontoLittle Italy, TorontoParkview Hills, TorontoRouge, TorontoThe Beach, TorontoWest Deane Park, TorontoAirdrieAjaxBarrieBurlingtonBurnabyCalgaryCoquitlamCote Saint-LucDeltaEdmontonHamiltonHampsteadKelownaKitchenerLangleyLavalLondonMarkhamMiltonMississaugaMont-RoyalMontrealNewmarketNorth VancouverOakvilleOkotoksOttawaOutremontPointe-ClairePort MoodyRichmondRichmond HillSaint LaurentSherwood ParkSpruce GroveSt AlbertSurreyVancouverVaughanVictoriaWaterlooWest VancouverWestmountWhitbyOnlineAlberta, British Columbia, Ontario, QuebecDowntown, East-End, East-York, Etobicoke, Midtown, North-York, Scarborough, West-End2021-03-012021-04-012021-05-012021-06-012021-07-012021-08-01
FEATURED

Muskoka Woods   

Rosseau

  • Traditional (multi activity)
  • Overnight Camp

Muskoka Woods is a Christian youth development organization that offers a fun, safe and welcoming environment for all youth. Our staff share a common desire to help young people realize their full potential. Read more...

  • Ages 6 to 16
  • Coed
  • from $1,149
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FEATURED

Crescent Camps & Programs   

North Toronto, Toronto

  • Traditional (multi activity)
  • Day Camp, Virtual Program

Our Camps and Programs reflect Crescent School's excellence in academics, robotics, athletics, business, the arts and leadership, with highly qualified, enthusiastic instructors and staff. Read more...

  • Ages 6 to 17
  • Coed
  • from $75
financialliteracyengineeringsciencemultistemmakerspacebasketballsocceryogaartscraftsvisualartsmultiwildernessskillsleadershiptrainingleadershipinstructorleadoneononeacademictutoringskilledtradesactivitiesreadingwritingjournalismtraditionalmultiactivityperformingartsleadershipacademictutoringdaycampvirtualprogramcoed756-17North Toronto, TorontoOnlineOntarioUptown2021-04-012021-05-012021-06-012021-07-01
FEATURED

Camp Can-Aqua   

Haliburton Highlands; Oakville; Ottawa

  • Traditional (multi activity)
  • Overnight Camp

A traditional camp with diverse programming & exceptional instruction, we believe in teaching kids compromise, patients & empathy. Fun is a given. Through thoughtful & individualized programming, our campers thrive here. Read more...

  • Ages 5 to 17
  • Coed
  • from $2,100
ropecourseswildernessouttrippingwildernessskillscookingfantasysuperheroguitarmusicmultitheatreartsperformingartsartscraftsvisualartsmultidrawingpaintingphotovideopotteryceramicswoodworkingnatureenvironmentlegoskilledtradesactivitiesfirstaidlifesavingmindfulnesstrainingarcherybadmintonbaseballsoftballbasketballboardsailingaquaticscanoeingfishinggagahikingkayakingseakayakingmountainbikingpingpongsailingmarineskillssoccersportsinstructionalandtrainingswimmingultimatefrisbeevolleyballwaterskiingwakeboardingyogafencingtraditionalmultiactivityovernightcampcoed21005-17Haliburton HighlandsOakvilleOttawaOnlineOntario2021-08-01
FEATURED

InterVarsity Circle Square Ranch Big Clear Lake   

Hamilton; Huntsville; Land O' Lakes Tourist Region

  • Traditional (multi activity)
  • Overnight Camp

Circle Square Ranch is a life changing Christian summer camp for kids and teens ages 6-17. We offer a wide range of activities including horseback riding and water sports. Your summer adventure with friends starts here! Read more...

  • Ages 6 to 17
  • Coed, Girls, Boys
  • from $499
leadershiptrainingleadershipfirstaidlifesavingstrengthandconditioningswimmingaquaticshorsebackridingequestriantraditionalmultiactivityovernightcampcoedallgirlsallboys4996-17HamiltonHuntsvilleLand O' Lakes Tourist RegionOnlineOntario2021-07-01
FEATURED

Radiant Girls   

Burlington; Tillsonburg

  • Traditional (multi activity)
  • Day Camp, Virtual Program

Girls Wellness & Leadership programs, with prof. coaches, chef's and trainers. Featuring Yoga/Pilates, Outdoor Adventures, Art, Leadership Games, Relationship Building, Self Care, Coaching, and More! Read more...

  • Ages 7 to 18
  • Girls
  • from $180
artscraftsvisualartsmultidrawingpaintingphotovideocitlitprogramleadershipleadershiptrainingsocialjusticeempowermentsupercampnatureenvironmentwritingjournalismmeditationmindfulnesstrainingnutritionpilatesstrengthandconditioningweightlossprogramhikingyogapapiermachepotteryceramicscookingentrepreneurshippublicspeakingdebatetraditionalmultiactivitydaycampvirtualprogramallgirls1807-18BurlingtonTillsonburgOnlineOntario2021-01-012021-02-012021-03-012021-04-012021-05-012021-06-012021-07-01
FEATURED
  • Education (multi)
  • Day Camp, Overnight Camp

Transformative experiences learning in and through the outdoors—academic, athletic, for credit or enrichment. Spend every day outdoors on the water, in the forest, or at our farm—learn, have fun and stretch yourself. Read more...

  • Ages 13 to 17
  • Coed
  • from $450
balletdancemultibreakdancinghiphopjazzmusicaltheatreperformingartswildernessskillscreditcourseslanguageinstructionnatureenvironmentcanoeingaquaticsfishingkayakingseakayakingswimmingsailingmarineskillseducationmultidaycampovernightcampcoed45013-17LakefieldOnlineOntario2021-06-012021-07-012021-08-01
FEATURED

TAC Sports - Toronto Athletic Camps   

Don Mills, Toronto; Hogg's Hollow, Toronto; Thornhill; Vaughan

  • Sport (multi)
  • Day Camp

TAC Sports, TAC Aquatics and Lifetime Skills Academy (LSA) specialize in sports, swim and S.T.E.M programming. Ages 4-16, Co-ed. Year round Camps, Lessons, Academy and House Leagues across the GTA! Grow, Learn, Lead! Read more...

  • Ages 3.5 to 16
  • Coed
  • from $250
storytellingballetdancemultihiphopjazzartscraftsvisualartsmulti3dprintingjavacomputerprogrammingmultiscratchvideogamewebdesignentrepreneurshipfinancialliteracyleadershiptrainingleadershipsteambasketballcyclingsoccertennisgymnasticssportsinstructionalandtrainingsportmultidaycampcoed2503.5-16Don Mills, TorontoHogg's Hollow, TorontoThornhillVaughanOntarioNorth-York2021-06-012021-07-012021-08-01
FEATURED

Focus Learning Academic Centre   

Don Mills, Toronto

  • Education (multi)
  • Virtual Program

An enrichment academic learning centre committed to igniting the love of learning among children and teens. A variety of subjects are on offer with both our FocusKids and FocusLeaders summer camps. Read more...

  • Ages 7 to 15
  • Coed
  • from $150
instructorleadgroupacademictutoringpublicspeakingdebatereadingwritingjournalismeducationmultivirtualprogramcoed1507-15Don Mills, TorontoOnlineOntarioNorth-York
FEATURED

Camp Nominingue   

Mont-Tremblant

  • Traditional (multi activity)
  • Overnight Camp

An English boys' camp in Quebec, Nominingue offers the ultimate outdoor experience: living in a tent with the opportunity of going on wilderness canoe trips. It is the place where your summer adventure begins! Read more...

  • Ages 7 to 16
  • Boys
  • from $845
firstaidlifesavingnatureenvironmentarcherybaseballsoftballbasketballboardsailingaquaticscanoeingfishinghikingkayakingseakayakingmountainbikingsailingmarineskillssoccerswimmingtennisvolleyballlacrossedivingrockclimbingpingponggagaartscraftsvisualartsmultitheatreartsperformingartscookingwoodworkingvocaltrainingsingingmusicmultiguitarwildernessouttrippingwildernessskillstraditionalmultiactivityovernightcampallboys8457-16Mont-TremblantOnlineQuebec2021-07-012021-08-01
FEATURED

FDT Academy    

Vancouver

  • Education: Public Speaking/Debate
  • Virtual Program

FDT's 2020/2021 academic programs are offered online via Zoom. As leaders in Debate, Speech & Model UN training, FDT Academy is renowned for having over 20 of its students make it on the national Debate & Speech teams. Read more...

  • Ages 4 to 18
  • Coed
  • from $100
instructorleadgroupacademictutoringinstructorleadoneononesocialjusticeempowermentleadershippublicspeakingdebatereadingwritingjournalismeducationeducationmultipublicspeakingdebatevirtualprogramcoed1004-18VancouverOnlineBritish Columbia2021-01-012021-02-012021-03-012021-04-012021-05-012021-06-012021-07-012021-08-01

Prestige School Summer Programme   

Willowdale, Toronto; Richmond Hill

  • Traditional (multi activity)
  • Virtual Program

A day camp with weekly themes that incorporate adventurous outings, artistic creations, scientific experiments, and much more. Read more...

  • Ages 3 to 12
  • Coed
  • from $350
instructorleadgroupacademictutoringpublicspeakingdebatereadingtestpreparationwritingjournalismdrawingvisualartsmultipaintinganimation3ddesigncomputerprogrammingmultitechnologywebdesigndevelopmentvideogamewebdesignroboticsfinancialliteracymathnatureenvironmentstemstrengthandconditioningcreditcourseslanguageinstructiontraditionalmultiactivityvirtualprogramcoed3503-12Willowdale, TorontoRichmond HillOnlineOntarioNorth-York2021-07-012021-08-01
  • Computer (multi)
  • Virtual Program

Artech is the Ultimate Creative Technology Program Center specializing in Game Design, Animation & Coding. Our virtual programs are fully interactive for kids 7 through teens and can reach kids anywhere on this planet! Read more...

  • Ages 7 to 19
  • Coed
  • from $150
storytellingcartooningvisualartsmulticomicartdrawinganimation3ddesigntechnologyvideogamewebdesigninstructorleadgroupacademictutoringinstructorleadoneononesteamstemfantasysuperherominecraftcomputermultivirtualprogramcoed1507-19HalifaxOnlineNova Scotia2021-07-01

Eco Camp    

Orangeville

  • Traditional (multi activity)
  • Day Camp

If you want your child to have fun, learn about the earth and be outside ... you are sending them to the right place!! Your child will come home tired, happy, and probably a little dirty - which we think is perfect!! Read more...

  • Ages 5 to 14
  • Coed
  • from $350
wildernessouttrippingwildernessskillsartscraftsvisualartsmultidrawingpaintingwoodworkingcitlitprogramleadershipleadershiptrainingnatureenvironmentcanoeingaquaticsfishingarcherydiscgolfhikinglacrossemountainbikingsoccervolleyballtraditionalmultiactivitydaycampcoed3505-14OrangevilleOntario2021-07-01

CASMA Camps   

Bridle Path, Toronto; Lawrence Heights, Toronto

  • Traditional (multi activity)
  • Day Camp

High quality instruction in sport, art, music and more! Special guest speakers. All Ministry of Health health and safety measures in place. Our small group summer camp was sold out and we had zero Covid-19 cases. Read more...

  • Ages 4 to 16
  • Coed
  • from $200
balletdancemultibreakdancinghiphopjazzmusicalinstrumenttrainingmusicmultistringmusicaltheatreperformingartstheatreartsartscraftsvisualartsmulticartooningcomicartdrawingpaintingpapiermacheroboticsinstructorleadgroupacademictutoringinstructorleadoneononelanguageinstructioncitlitprogramleadershipleadershiptraininglegopublicspeakingdebatestembadmintonbasketballcyclingflagfootballmountainbikingsoccersportsinstructionalandtrainingtennisultimatefrisbeevolleyballyogatraditionalmultiactivitydaycampcoed2004-16Bridle Path, TorontoLawrence Heights, TorontoOnlineOntarioNorth-York2021-06-012021-07-012021-08-01

Block 8 Academy   

Port Moody

  • Traditional (multi activity)
  • Virtual Program

Active, Creative, Mix of Indoor and Outdoor all in one camp! Encourage your children to socialize in person, or have them enjoy learning a new skill online with top notch voice instructors, debate, creative writing... Read more...

  • Ages 5 to 12
  • Coed
  • from $45
publicspeakingdebatevocaltrainingsingingmusicmultimusicaltheatreperformingartstraditionalmultiactivitymusicmultivirtualprogramcoed455-12Port MoodyOnlineBritish Columbia

Camp Cherith - Ontario   

Southern Bruce County

  • Traditional (multi activity)
  • Overnight Camp

This Christian camp includes focuses on theatre arts, horseback riding, canoe tripping and more, situated in the heart of Grey-Bruce in south central Ontario. Read more...

  • Ages 6 to 16
  • Coed
  • from $519
ropecourseswildernessskillsvocaltrainingsingingmusicmultiartscraftsvisualartsmultidrawingwoodworkingcitlitprogramleadershipleadershiptrainingnatureenvironmentcanoeingaquaticsfishingkayakingseakayakingswimmingarcherybasketballgagahikinghorsebackridingequestrianmountainbikingsoccertrampolinevolleyballtraditionalmultiactivityovernightcampcoed5196-16Southern Bruce CountyOnlineOntario2021-07-012021-08-01
  • Traditional (multi activity)
  • Virtual Program

SMCS Camps provides youth with exciting academic, athletic, and artistic outlets, as well as opportunities to learn and grow within a fun and interactive environment. Please visit: smcscamps.com Read more...

  • Ages 10 to 16
  • Coed
  • from $100
storytellingvocaltrainingsingingmusicmultiactingfilmtvperformingartsmusicaltheatretheatreartsplaywritingpublicspeakingdebatewritingjournalismcreativewritinginstructorleadgroupacademictutoringmakerspacereadingtraditionalmultiactivityperformingartsvirtualprogramcoed10010-16Forest Hill, TorontoOnlineOntarioMidtown2021-07-01

Camp Solelim   

Lawrence Manor, Toronto; Sudbury

  • Traditional (multi activity)
  • Overnight Camp

Camp Solelim is a sleepover camp designed for Jewish 13 to 15 year olds. Our programming includes traditional waterfront, sports, arts and outdoor activities, as well as leadership development and community building. Read more...

  • Ages 13 to 15
  • Coed
  • from $7,385
survivalskillstravelwildernessouttrippingwildernessskillsbakingdecoratingcomedycookingbreakdancingdancemultihiphopjazzgleemusicmultiguitarjamcamppianosongwritingvocaltrainingsingingmusicaltheatreperformingartssetandcostumedesigntheatreartsplaywritingartscraftsvisualartsmultipaintingleadershiptrainingleadershipsocialjusticeempowermentsteamstemwritingjournalismbronzecrossfirstaidlifesavingmeditationmindfulnesstrainingstrengthandconditioningboardsailingaquaticscanoeingkayakingseakayakingswimmingwaterskiingwakeboardingbaseballsoftballbasketballdodgeballflagfootballhikinghockeysoccersportsinstructionalandtrainingtrackandfieldultimatefrisbeevolleyballwaterpoloyogatraditionalmultiactivityovernightcampcoed738513-15Lawrence Manor, TorontoSudburyOntarioNorth-York2021-07-012021-08-01

Roseneath Theatre   

Downtown West, Toronto

  • Traditional (multi activity)
  • Virtual Program

A creative collection of programs that range from Dance, Drama, ASL Improv, our popular Dungeons & Dragons programs and more. Our expert councillors bring the arts to kids computers in fun and accessible ways. Read more...

  • Ages 6 to 16
  • Coed
  • from $40
actingfilmtvperformingartstheatreartstraditionalmultiactivityperformingartsvirtualprogramcoed406-16Downtown West, TorontoOntarioDowntown2021-04-01

STEM Minds   

Aurora

  • Education: STEAM
  • Virtual Program

STEM Minds is a mission-driven social enterprise that teaches technology to new and skilled users with in-class and virtual education programs in coding, video game design, and more for children ages 4-14. Read more...

  • Ages 4 to 14
  • Coed
  • from $100
aiartificialintelligenceanimation3ddesignarduinocomputerprogrammingmultipythonmechatronicsminecraftrasberrypiroboticsscratchtechnologyvideogamewebdesignwebdesigndevelopmentlegosteamstemeducationeducationmultisteamvirtualprogramcoed1004-14AuroraOnlineOntario2021-01-012021-02-012021-03-012021-04-012021-05-01

Camp Ponacka   

The Beach, Toronto; Bancroft; Peterborough

  • Traditional (multi activity)
  • Overnight Camp

Ponacka has been a "home away from home" for hundreds of boys since 1947. A traditional summer camp where boys gain confidence through independence, find lifelong friends and have so much fun - and it's tech free. Read more...

  • Ages 6 to 15
  • Boys
  • from $2,600
wildernessskillspianomusicmultiartscraftsvisualartsmultipotteryceramicswoodworkingarcherybasketballcanoeingaquaticsfishinghikinghockeyhorsebackridingequestrianpingpongsailingmarineskillssoccerswimmingultimatefrisbeevolleyballwaterskiingwakeboardingtraditionalmultiactivityovernightcampallboys26006-15The Beach, TorontoBancroftPeterboroughOntarioEast-End2021-06-012021-07-01
  • Education: Language Instruction
  • Day Camp, Program

We offer a fully immersive French experience led by our expert native teachers. Camps, Interactive Classes, as well as various enriching cultural events throughout the year. Learn to Love and Speak French at LPE! Read more...

  • Ages 4 to 16
  • Coed
  • Cost Varies
bakingdecoratingcookingartscraftsvisualartsmultidrawingpaintingpapiermachepotteryceramicsvirtualrealitycreativewritinglanguageinstructionleadershiptrainingleadershipsupercampstemeducationeducationmultilanguageinstructiondaycampprogramclasscoed04-16OakvilleOntario2021-07-012021-08-012021-09-012021-10-012021-11-012021-12-01

Spirit of Math   

Throughout Ontario (8)

  • Traditional (multi activity)
  • Day Camp

Does your child love math challenges? Spirit of Math’s summer camps focus on the core topics from our curriculum with an extensive range of fun & exciting summer camps designed to challenge students from grades 2 - 9. Read more...

  • Ages 5 to 15
  • Coed
  • from $275
leadershiptrainingleadershipmathinstructorleadgroupacademictutoringstemtestpreparationfinancialliteracytraditionalmultiactivitydaycampcoed2755-15Leaside, TorontoNorth Toronto, TorontoMarkhamRichmond HillOnlineOntarioEast-York, Uptown2021-08-01

Ryerson Day Camps   

Bay Street Corridor, Toronto

  • Traditional (multi activity)
  • Virtual Program

Ryerson University offers safe and fun experiences for kids and teens. Programs include architecture, basketball, engineering, film, graphic design, robotics, science, soccer, and more! Read more...

  • Ages 6 to 17
  • Coed
  • from $270
animation3ddesigncomputerprogrammingmultitechnologytraditionalmultiactivityvirtualprogramcoed2706-17Bay Street Corridor, TorontoOnlineOntarioDowntown2021-07-01
  • Sport: Cycling
  • Program

Courses for ages 4 and up from the never-ever to advanced bicycling and summer day camps for kids. Professional, fun instructors ensure your bicycling skills improve so that you can safely ride your bike for any purpose. Read more...

  • Ages 4 to 99
  • Coed
  • from $80
travelcyclingsportssportmulticyclingprogramclasscoed804-99CalgaryAlberta2021-05-012021-06-01

Mi-A-Kon-Da   

Hamilton; Parry Sound

  • Traditional (multi activity)
  • Overnight Camp

A traditional, all-girls summer camp with various outdoor activities including sailing, wilderness trips, arts and crafts activities and more. Offering 1, 2 or 4 week sessions or an introductory weekend. Read more...

  • Ages 6 to 16
  • Girls
  • from $2,240
ropecoursesjamcampmusicmultitheatreartsperformingartsartscraftsvisualartsmultinatureenvironmentcanoeingaquaticskayakingseakayakingsailingmarineskillsswimmingarcheryhikingrockclimbingwildernessskillsballetdancemultihiphopjazzguitarpianovocaltrainingsingingdrawingpaintingphotovideofishingvolleyballyogatraditionalmultiactivityovernightcampallgirls22406-16HamiltonParry SoundOntario2021-06-012021-07-012021-08-01
  • Education: STEAM
  • Virtual Program

Premier after-school online STEAM Education for children age 6 to 15 years. They also host family bonding & parent networking events. Their creative STEAM Kits/Gifts are perfect to spend quality Family Time @HOME. Read more...

  • Ages 6 to 14
  • Coed
  • Cost Varies
animation3ddesigntechnologyvideogamewebdesignvirtualrealitywebdesigndevelopmentleadershiptrainingleadershipsocialjusticeempowermentmakerspacematharchitecturesciencemultiengineeringhealthsciencemarinebiologymedicalsciencesafarispacezoologyanimalsskilledtradesactivitiessteamstemeducationeducationmultisteamvirtualprogramcoed06-14BramptonOnlineOntario2021-01-012021-02-012021-03-012021-04-012021-05-012021-06-01
  • Sport: Hockey
  • Overnight Camp

A Northern Ontario summer camp, specializing in hockey programs, offering daily on-ice instruction as well as outdoor sports including Water Skiing, Archery, Mountain Biking and more. Read more...

  • Ages 7 to 16
  • Coed
  • from $1,100
ropecoursesmeditationmindfulnesstrainingstrengthandconditioningcanoeingaquaticskayakingseakayakingsailingmarineskillswaterskiingwakeboardingarcheryhockeymountainbikingfishingdiscgolfvolleyballyogasportssportmultihockeyaquaticsovernightcampcoed11007-16HuntsvilleOnlineOntario2021-07-012021-08-01
  • Traditional (multi activity)
  • Overnight Camp

Adventure Begins at Summer camp! Day and overnight programs and many activities including horseback riding,ESL, paintball, archery, whitewater rafting and more. Offering Awesome memories to campers from 5-16 . Read more...

  • Ages 4 to 16
  • Coed
  • from $900
artscraftsvisualartsmultiphotovideocanoeingaquaticsfishingkayakingseakayakingswimmingarcherybadmintoncyclinggolfhorsebackridingequestrianmountainbikingpingpongrockclimbingtrampolinevolleyballtraditionalmultiactivityovernightcampcoed9004-16EganvilleOttawaOnlineOntario2021-07-012021-08-01

Definitions of courage

“Courage is the ability to stand in the face of and move through experiences of adversity, uncertainty and uncomfortable feelings like anxiety, fear and pain,” says Sarde Matti,  a registered clinical social worker who works with youth and young adults experiencing mental health complications. Courage is a precursor to confidence and resilience in her view. “It’s so easy to fall into a critical narrative of ourselves. Courageous behaviour [rewards us] with confidence,” she explains. “If we take steps to move through uncomfortable feelings we can show ourselves at any point in life that we have the capacity to bounce back, instead of allowing those feelings to burden us or hold us back from achieving our goals.”

Ask Hailey, a former camper at Radiant Girls, and she’ll tell you that courage consists of “putting others before yourself and just doing the right thing before it’s even asked.” She believes courage she's developed in camp helps her in difficult situations, and encourages her to take ownership of mistakes. 

What does courage look like?

Sometimes, even in adulthood, Matti explains, “we’re prevented from doing things that make us uncomfortable or vulnerable, whereas children are naturally inquisitive, explorative and curious. Childhood is the optimal time to develop [courage] so it can be refined as time goes on.” The skill of courage, she believes, can grow throughout our lives as we diversify our experiences.

 

Very young children interpret courage as the ability to demonstrate bravery in fearful situations, such as going on a rollercoaster or learning to ride a bike. As they get older, they begin to associate courage with psychological fears, the risks involved and whether or not they can overcome it. Examples of this include standing up to bullying, owning up to a mistake or asking for help when you need support. Courage provides an individual with the ability to step out of their comfort zone and move past negative feelings or thoughts. “Being able to say I need help or support, being able to be vulnerable and share your thoughts and experiences is so courageous,” according to Matti. “I think if you look for it, you can see courage in everyday moments.”

Courage provides an individual with the ability to step out of their comfort zone and move past negative feelings or thoughts.

Hailey illustrates from her Radiant Girls’ experience how she learned courage in the past. “When I was rock climbing, I got blisters from the rope,” she says, “I was a bit moody about it and I was being rude to the other girls.” Gina Faubert, director of Radiant Girls camp, pulled her aside for a chat. “I was afraid that if I said sorry, their opinion wouldn’t change and it wouldn’t mean a thing.” Gina told Hailey that it would be courageous of her to do the right thing. It was a lesson that stuck with her. 

As we get older, we begin to associate courage with psychological challenges. Maddy Wells took on just such a challenge when she took part in an Outward Bound West Coast Discovery course in Clayoquot Sound. The point of Outward Bound programs is precisely to get young people out of their comfort zones. For her, the physical difficulties of the Outward Bound course were prodigious, but the bigger challenge was overcoming her own feelings of limitation. Outward Bound helps older kids challenge those limits, just as they’re learning about who they are and where they fit in the world. Like Wells, teens in these programs often discover they can exceed those challenges. At the end of it, she says, “I felt so much peace. I had done something I never thought I could achieve. I had told myself my whole life that someone such as myself could never deserve an experience like this, but I was wrong. I learned a lot about myself ... I had the ability to empower others and myself, and I had the strength to push myself mentally and physically further than I believed possible.”

How to develop courage

Kids develop courage when they persevere through uncertainty or uncomfortable feelings. Although new environments can create negative emotions and challenges, it’s important to expose them to settings that will foster and develop courage. Matti believes that social environments “naturally diversify a child’s experiences [because] children are exposed to new people, settings and activities.” 

Camps and recreational programs are particularly unique, in her opinion, because “[they foster] courage building by allowing children to explore through play and fun without the added, perceived pressure of performance that might accompany a more traditional, academic setting.”

Similarly, Hailey believes she learned one-of-a-kind lessons in courage through camp. “It really changed me as a person,” she says. One activity in particular resonated strongly with her.

She explains, “[Gina] told us to write a letter to our so-called enemy and just write all the nasty things we could think of them, and then afterwards, we’d crumple it up and burn it.” The exercise was symbolic of forgiving yourself and the other person you might have negative feelings towards. “That’s something that really stuck with me,” she says.  

Matti believes an effective way to teach courage to children is to model it yourself. “Children are so impressionable”, she says. “If they see people in their environment doing courageous acts by working through adversities and feelings like anxiety or fear, it’s definitely influential and encouraging the child’s own behaviour.” 

She suggests that parents can have a discussion with children wherein they explain courage and demonstrate what it looks like. From there, they can encourage kids to exercise courage in their day-to-day life. Daily examples of courage can include participating in a class discussion, asking a friend for help on a homework question, or trying out for their school’s soccer team.

However, Matti also recommends reframing some situations for children, to show them when they are displaying courage to help them make the connection. For example, consider the child playing their first soccer game who may be typically critical of their rookie performance. “Show the child that they were actually demonstrating courage by taking initiative to engage in something new and move through feelings of anxiety or fear”, she says. “This is important to help them realize their own capacity for skill-building and to help them recognize that within themselves.” 

Finally, she stresses the importance of giving yourself permission to be imperfect. 

“Today in the digital age … children are influenced in regards to how to act, how to behave, what to purchase, etc. Creating safety for a child to be able to question and bring up those experiences is really important.” When your child demonstrates courage, boost this behaviour as much as possible. If your child falls off course, take the opportunity to give positive feedback and teach them there’s value in learning from the experience. Remember to support your child and let them know that you are there for them, every step of the way.

What are the benefits of courage?

Courage builds confidence and resilience, while also encouraging children to persevere in the face of adversity. Matti has worked with many youth who have mental health difficulties. For many of these kids, courage sets the stage for learning. “As we age and at any point in our lives, it’s so natural for us to fear the unknown and to avoid things that make us uncomfortable. If we can continue to question things and diversify our experiences then we’re always setting the stage for learning.” 

Courage is a key aspect of leadership, she adds. “The individuals who are taking risks”, she says, “who are making practice changes, who are making suggestions for quality improvement and innovation...these are all acts of courage!” Courage is an integral leadership skill when someone moves through feelings of doubt or fear, towards an attitude that makes them feel like they can accomplish what they put their mind to. 

Patience is key

Courage is a skill nurtured and developed as kids mature. Matti highlights the importance of acknowledging that sometimes, “the impacts of our acts of courage aren’t always seen right away.” It has ripple effects over time. “Don’t be discouraged and don’t allow children to be discouraged if they don’t have immediate gratification from that courageous act. Continue practicing that because it could have more of an impact than you know.”

She encourages individuals to try and identify courage within themselves. 

“Don’t misinterpret the anxiety, the fear, the pain or uncertainty as not having the capacity for courage. It’s the act of moving through these feelings that truly gives definition to courage,” she says. 

Want your child to grow in courage?

Camp is a great environment for fostering and developing courage because it exposes children to new experiences that may initially cause hesitancy, nervousness or doubt. At camp, your child will be required to work with others and participate in new activities, itself a demonstration of courage. This environment will help your child move through their negative feelings and gain confidence, resilience and leadership skills. 



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