Camps that improve self-regulation

Understand your emotions

Self-regulation is:
• Conscientiousness, discipline, and self-control
• The ability to regulate emotions and behaviour
• Organization and executive functioning skills

In a camp setting, kids learn to “manage conflict with peers, adapt to change [and] exhibit cognitive flexibility,” among other things, as Una Malcolm says. Under our list of camps, find more about what’s meant by self-regulation, why it’s advantageous to develop this trait, and how camp offers unique lessons in this skill critical to kids’ long-term well-being. Read more




List of camps and programs that promote self-regulation

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FEATURED
  • Traditional (multi activity)
  • Virtual Program

Our online programs include Enrichment Classes for Language Arts, Math or STEAM for students in Gr. 1-8 and Online Credits for students in Gr. 9-12. Our day camp for campers in Gr. 1-8 provides a fun way to spend summer. Read more...

  • Ages 4 to 18
  • Coed
  • from $199
instructorleadgroupacademictutoringlanguageinstructionmathsteamstemwritingjournalismtraditionalmultiactivityvirtualprogramcoed1994-18NewmarketOntario2021-01-012021-02-012021-03-01
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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
entrepreneurshipfinancialliteracywritingjournalismeducationmultivirtualprogramcoed1507-15Don Mills, TorontoOnlineOntarioNorth-York
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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
storytellingballetdancemultihiphopjazzartscraftsvisualartsmulticyclingsoccerbasketballsportsinstructionalandtrainingtennissportmultidaycampcoed2503.5-16Don Mills, TorontoHogg's Hollow, TorontoThornhillVaughanOntarioNorth-York2021-06-012021-07-012021-08-01
FEATURED
  • Education (multi)
  • Day Camp, Overnight Camp, Virtual Program

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
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FEATURED
  • Education (multi)
  • Virtual Program

Enrichment Studies at Queen's University connects students in Grades 5-12 with exciting university experiences. We inspire our participants to reach their potential through mentorship, growth and problem solving. Read more...

  • Ages 10 to 17
  • Coed
  • from $199
medicalsciencesciencemultieducationmultisciencemultivirtualprogramcoed19910-17KingstonOnlineOntario2021-03-01
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
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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
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  • Sport: Martial Arts
  • Virtual Program

amadojo.net/brampton Read more...

  • Ages 4 to 16
  • Coed
  • from $150
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Oxford Learning High Park   

Bloor West Village, Toronto

  • Education (multi)
  • Program

Oxford means a personalized learning experience for your child. Veriety of programs for the students of all ages. Learning takes a fun turn. Our students are excited to learn! Read more...

  • Ages 4 to 12
  • Coed
  • from $100
storytellingvocaltrainingsingingmusicmultitheatreartsperformingartstechnologycreativewritingsocialjusticeempowermentleadershipmathnatureenvironmentpublicspeakingdebatereadingmarinebiologysciencemultizoologyanimalssteamwritingjournalismnutritionyogaeducationmultiprogramclasscoed1004-12Bloor West Village, TorontoOnlineOntarioWest-End2021-09-012021-10-012021-11-012021-12-012022-01-012022-02-012022-03-012022-04-012022-05-012022-06-01
  • 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
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Toronto Kyokushinkai Karate   

The Beach, Toronto

  • Sport: Martial Arts
  • Program

Kids Karate Summer Day Camp, PA Day Camps, March Break Camps. After school martial arts, Karate and fitness programs. Read more...

  • Ages 4 to 12
  • Coed
  • from $239
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Block 8 Academy   

Port Moody

  • Traditional (multi activity)
  • Day Camp, 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
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Camp Kodiak   

Parry Sound

  • Traditional (multi activity)
  • Overnight Camp

Fun! Friends! Success! An integrated overnight summer camp for children & teens with and without LD, ADHD, and high-functioning ASD. We provide a SOCIAL SKILLS program, ACADEMIC program and 50+ activities. Read more...

  • Ages 6 to 18
  • Coed
  • from $1,527
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Mayfair Clubs   

Bathurst Manor/Clanton Park, Toronto; Leslieville, Toronto; Markham

  • Traditional (multi activity)
  • Virtual Program

Mayfair Clubs offers a wide variety of Sports Day Camps at all of our locations for ages 2-17. We specialize in tennis & squash programming but also offer swimming, multi-sport and even camps for young toddlers. Read more...

  • Ages 2 to 16
  • Coed
  • from $70
karatetraditionalmultiactivityvirtualprogramcoed702-16Bathurst Manor/Clanton Park, TorontoLeslieville, TorontoMarkhamOnlineOntarioEast-End, North-York2021-05-012021-06-01
  • 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
artscraftsvisualartsmultitechnologyinstructorleadgroupacademictutoringarchitecturesciencemultiengineeringhealthsciencemedicalsciencespacezoologyanimalsskilledtradesactivitiessteamstemdrawingphotovideoanimation3ddesignjavacomputerprogrammingmultipythonscratchinstructorleadoneononemathmarinebiologysafarivideogamewebdesignleadershiptrainingleadershipnatureenvironmenteducationeducationmultisteamvirtualprogramcoed06-14BramptonOnlineOntario2021-04-012021-05-012021-06-01
  • Education: Instructor lead (group)
  • Virtual Program

The Cognitive Intensive Program strengthens the Symbol Relations cognitive function. Strengthening this area means a more powerful and positive capacity to understand, participate in and contribute to the world. Read more...

  • Ages 8 to 88
  • Coed
  • from $5,000
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COOKSMART   

Bloor West Village, Toronto; Mississauga

  • Arts: Cooking
  • Virtual Program

Get the kids cooking and learning more life skills! Our program has gone virtual and the kids are loving cooking together to make tasty foods for their family. Easy meals, healthy snacks make this the best Zoom class. Read more...

  • Ages 4 to 99
  • Coed
  • from $5
bakingdecoratingcookingmathnatureenvironmentmindfulnesstrainingnutritionartsartsmulticookingvirtualprogramcoed54-99Bloor West Village, TorontoMississaugaOnlineOntarioWest-End2021-01-012021-02-012021-03-012021-04-012021-05-01

Animation Portfolio Workshop Boot Camp   

Hillcrest Village, Toronto

  • Arts: Drawing
  • Program

A week long workshop that introduces hand-drawn animation and character design. Read more...

  • Ages 14 to 25
  • Coed
  • from $565
drawingvisualartsmultiartsartsmultidrawingvisualartsmultiprogramclasscoed56514-25Hillcrest Village, TorontoOnlineOntarioMidtown2021-04-012021-05-012021-06-012021-07-012021-08-012021-09-012021-10-012021-11-012021-12-012022-01-01
  • Education (multi)
  • Program, Virtual Program

At Sylvan of Oakville, we have STEM Summer Camps, STEM Club, tutoring in JK-Gr. 12 math, reading, and writing, as well as SAT/ACT prep courses. Read more...

  • Ages 5 to 18
  • Coed
  • from $30
writingjournalismlanguageinstructionreadingeducationmultiprogramclassvirtualprogramcoed305-18OakvilleOnlineOntario2021-01-012021-02-012021-03-012021-04-012021-05-012021-06-012021-07-012021-08-012021-09-012021-10-012021-11-012021-12-01
  • Arts: Visual arts (multi)
  • Virtual Program

The art camp for teens who are serious about animation and the arts. If your kid needs to make a portfolio for art or design college this is the camp to sign up for. Our students get accepted into top ranked colleges. Read more...

  • Ages 11 to 26
  • Coed
  • from $100
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  • Traditional (multi activity)
  • Virtual Program

A central Ontario summer camp for families and children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The KOC is located in Minden, Ontario. Situated on 600 hectares of land nestled in the forest along the shores of Grey Lake. Read more...

  • Ages 1 to 21
  • Coed
  • from $1
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Reidmount Discovery School   

Harbourfront, Toronto; Brampton; Burlington; Mississauga; Vancouver

  • Education (multi)
  • Virtual Program

Virtual Saturday classes, for all students who needs to excel, enhance or accelerate their academics. Our teachers will work to improve your child's grades from JK-Grade 12 for Math, English, Science, Writing and Coding. Read more...

  • Ages 3 to 18
  • Coed
  • from $600
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Ruth Rumack's Learning Space   

Annex, Toronto; Davisville Village, Toronto; Deer Park, Toronto

  • Education: Academic/Tutoring
  • Virtual Program

Cutting-edge Direct Instruction and academic support centre in Toronto offering 1-to-1 individual support for students K-12, innovative group classes and standardized test preparation for SSAT, SAT, and ACT. Read more...

  • Ages 4 to 18
  • Coed
  • from $300
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Camp UofT Scarborough   

Highland Creek, Toronto

  • Traditional (multi activity)
  • Virtual Program

Camp UTSC provides a virtual program for ages 5-12. Children's April Break Camp: Baking, Cooking, STEAM Lego, Magic Show, Magic Workshop and Robotics! Read more...

  • Ages 5 to 12
  • Coed
  • from $26
legosteamtraditionalmultiactivityvirtualprogramcoed265-12Highland Creek, TorontoOnlineOntarioScarborough2021-04-01

Code Ninjas Meadowvale   

Mississauga

  • Computer (multi)
  • Program

When school is out, fun and learning are in at Code Ninjas camps! If your kids are into MineCraft, Roblox, robotics, coding, or gaming, Code Ninjas is the place to be! Space is limited – reserve your spot today! Read more...

  • Ages 5 to 14
  • Coed
  • from $150
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Play Island Explorers   

Richmond Hill

  • Traditional (multi activity)
  • Day Camp, Program

Join us for March Break, Summer Camp, & Winter Break for an exciting camp experience for children ages 4-12 years. From indoor playground, outdoor sports, crafts, science, baking, music, splash park, & much more. Read more...

  • Ages 4 to 12
  • Coed
  • from $50
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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
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LOGIMIX   

Mississauga

  • Education: Academic/Tutoring
  • Virtual Program

LOGIMIX offers enhanced and regular math, science, physics and chemistry programs all year long. Prepare students for SSAT, SAT tests, Pre-U and University levels. Dedicated help with IB math and science. Read more...

  • Ages 10 to 20
  • Coed
  • from $40
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Defining and understanding self-regulation

Self-regulation is “a broad set of skills that allows kids to bounce back from strong emotions ... and manage difficulty in their day-to-day lives,” in Una Malcolm’s definition. Malcolm, a licensed teacher with the Ontario College of Teachers who runs Bright Light Learners, runs a private support firm in Toronto for students with learning exceptionalities.

“Oftentimes self-regulation and self-control are used interchangeably, but that might not be the most precise definition of self-regulation,” she says. “Think of self-regulation as a set of skills that allows a child to manage frustration, disappointment, adversity ... any sort of big, strong emotion. Self-regulation allows a child to return back to a normal set point.”

As Director of Bright Light Learners, she works with many students with complex needs, and understands first-hand the value and importance of developing self-regulation. 

“Think of a set point on a thermostat,” she says. “A thermostat is constantly monitoring the temperature … and once it reaches a certain point, then [it] either heats or cools the house.”  Kids with strong regulation skills “are monitoring how they’re feeling. If there’s a differential or a gap there, they’ll use strategies to come back to normal.” 

Self-regulation is a very important part of everyday life. As she says, “no matter what kids are doing, they need to have self-regulation skills.”

How to develop self-regulation

Children aren’t born with these skills but they are born with the ability to develop them. Malcolm uses the metaphor of “an upstairs/downstairs brain” to explain a child’s process of developing self-regulation. 

“The downstairs brain is related to a lot of core, base functions like heart rate, stress response and fight or flight,” she says. The downstairs brain (a suitable metaphor for the limbic system) kicks into gear in response to danger; it triggers strong emotions. Malcolm explains it's typical for children to often respond with strong emotion because the upstairs brain takes longer to develop. “The upstairs brain (analagous to the cerebral cortex) allows kids to plan, to empathize, to take on another perspective, to problem solve.” The upstairs brain regulates behaviour but it develops faster with help from external environments and other people. 

Social environments like camp can be critical for supporting the development of self-regulation in children. It “puts kids in [situations] where they need to navigate these issues”, she says. “They're having to manage conflict with peers, adapt to change [and] exhibit cognitive flexibility when they change their schedule.” In a structured environment like camp, “with gentle coaching with peers, teachers, counsellors … kids [learn] to respond in an appropriate way and [this paves] the way for future success.”

How does camp accelerate the development of self-regulation? 

Camp creates a responsive, welcoming atmosphere and teaches self-regulation guidelines to children. This might include learning to let someone speak first, recalling attention to a task when distractions are present, and learning to control one’s emotions in an overwhelming situation. Malcolm emphasizes that “the very nature of a social environment like camp [presents] opportunities for kids to develop and practice self-regulation skills.” 

In these environments, children learn on their own how to cope with upsetting changes to their routine (i.e., a conflict with a peer or getting a question wrong on a test). When exposed to these challenges, they begin to learn strategies for self-regulation that help them manage emotions and remain focused on their duties. 

The child internalizes these regulating strategies until they become habit. At that point, they might even begin to instruct their peers in self-regulation. However, it’s important to keep in mind that children can’t develop self-regulation habits overnight. It’s a slow and long process. but with exposure and support, these habits will develop over time. 

Kids who can cope with changes to their environment and can manage cognitive flexibility and self-regulate are overwhelmingly kids who are more able to do well in school, at home, with friends, parents or families.

What are the benefits of self-regulation?

Malcolm highlights many short-term and long-term benefits of self-regulation skills. 

Current research indicates that “kids who can cope with changes to their environment and can manage cognitive flexibility and self-regulate are overwhelmingly kids who are more able to do well in school, at home, with friends, parents or families,” Malcolm says. This research suggests that “self-regulation skills are hugely predictive of mental health, achievement and success.”

Self-regulation in action: meet Erick

Erick, a camper from COOKSMART camp, understands self-regulation as “not making a big deal out of everything, keeping my stress in and not letting my stress out by controlling myself.” 

He believes that self-regulation will benefit him the rest of his life because it will, “balance [his] emotions towards [his] future jobs, friends and family.”

He believes that COOKSMART camp has helped him develop self-regulation skills. 

“At the COOKSMART camp,” he says, “every time I made a [cooking mistake], I would ask the teacher to redo that step so I could actually understand.” 

Furthermore, he's learning self-regulation while being homeschooled by his mom, Emilia. “In homeschooling, every time I didn’t get an answer, [my mom] would say for me to find the answer, fix what I did and look over the mistake that I did, so I don’t get mad at myself.” He understands that self-regulation involves managing strong emotions and staying focused on the task at hand. 

How will self-regulation help my child in the future?

Self-regulation is commonly developed during the toddler years, though the habits of self-regulation continue to develop past adulthood. 

When kids are developing self-regulation skills, Malcolm says, “any instances where they have to negotiate or bounce back from big emotions...creates neural pathways that allows them to use those skills in the future. That sets them on a path to success as adults.” 

Research has proven that individuals with strong self-regulation handle their emotions and stress levels better, expand their intellectual capabilities and engage in less problematic behaviors, as opposed to those who don't develop self-regulation. This critical tool can help children with academic success, emotion control, decision-making skills, leadership habits, overall mental health, and relationships with others for years to come. 

Overall, children with self-regulated behavioral habits are more likely to:

  • Follow directions and exercise discipline
  • Keep focus on tasks at hand 
  • Control emotions in exciting or stressful settings
  • Develop organizational skills 
  • Make adjustments to be in line with a goal
  • Constructively self-criticize performance 
  • Reflect on the outcome of a task
  • Teach self-regulation habits to other children

“[Self-regulation skills] allow us to maintain healthy relationships and as human beings, healthy relationships are a huge part of living”, Malcolm explains. “Self-regulation is essential to being human. It’s not just that it supports in one key zone - it's broadly predictive of success and health.”

Want Your Child to Enhance Their Self-Regulation Skills?

Camps are advantageous to developing and enhancing self-regulation skills. The experience encourages children to work with others and follow rules mindfully, while it exposes them to new challenges and environments. At camp, children learn personal strategies for managing behaviour and emotions in a way that works for them, while they are guided and supported by their camp leaders. 



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