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Mar 29, 2019 Exploration Programs Video Student Life EXPLO Today

Community is Key to Building Confidence

Three week summer programs can be the perfect fit for many families — long enough for kids to experience true growth and personal transformation, but still fit in vacations and other planned experiences.

Melissa Patricio


If you’ve ever met someone who spent their summers at sleep-away camp, you’ve likely heard all about how it was there that they forged the most influential friendships of their lives. Hard to believe, when you consider that summer is a relatively short time frame in the scope of a child’s life.

“I try to explain it to my husband, but he didn’t go to camp. He just doesn’t get it,” an alum recently told us.

“It” is community. And at EXPLO, we get “it”, because we have spent decades building communities that invite kids to shrug off the insecurities and expectations they wear at home, to practice independence, and to explore their strengths and interests among like-hearted, curious kids from around the world. And we do it better than any other academic summer program around.

Exploration — Without Expectation — Nurtures Confidence

With the prescribed expectations of school, it can be difficult for kids to find the time and space to try new things and figure out what they’re really passionate about. Even if the opportunity to try new things and experiment with different identities to see what feels most authentic presents itself before college, the stakes at home are often too high — both socially and academically.

EXPLO is built for exploration — for experimenting, for testing, for pushing the boundaries of creativity and asking not only, “What else can I do?” but more importantly, “What more can I be?”

"Three weeks? What a transformation that is as a kid. When you’re looking back as an adult you think, ‘Three weeks, how can that change?’ But when you’re in those young years of your life, three weeks can be everything.”

— Daryn Carp, EXPLO Alum

And when you are part of a community that not only accepts you for who you are, but that begs you to be yourself, it’s amazing how quickly your confidence grows and your comfort level — both in who you are and in sharing that incredible person with others — begins to take root.

The Third Week

Scheduling summer is one of the biggest challenges modern families face. Between the sheer volume of options and trying to fit in unscheduled family time or a family vacation, it can feel like putting together a jigsaw puzzle without the picture. That’s one of the reasons why EXPLO offers 1- and 2-week programs in addition to our flagship 3-week program.

But if you ask anyone who has attended EXPLO they will tell you: the real difference is in the third week. That's when summer camp becomes transformational.

Why? For most of our students, the first week is spent adjusting to being away from home for the first time. The second week is when they start to open up — to the possibilities available to them, to the community, even to themselves. But it’s the third week when they truly own the experience. It’s then that they feel confident enough to make choices that suit their interests; they’re no longer following the herd.

“One of the things we discovered was that it took him the entire first week to adjust to the idea of being away. If we had gone for a one week program he might never have wanted to go to a summer program again,” says EXPLO parent Abigail Feder-Kane. “Three weeks is a terrific length of time, because it gave him the week to adjust but then the majority of time he was there he felt at home.”

Three Weeks Can Be Everything

The third week is also when the bonds of friendship solidify. As adults, It’s hard for us to believe that three weeks can be transformational. But as alumna Daryn Carp reminds us, three weeks in kid-time can truly feel like a lifetime. And it lasts as long, too. Carp, who hosts a number of shows and podcasts for Bravo and The CW, maintains friendships she made at EXPLO to this day.

“Looking at the trajectory and looking back, my first day at EXPLO I was crying because I was going to miss my parents. When my parents were coming to pick me up, I was crying because I was going to miss my friends. Three weeks? What a transformation that is as a kid. When you’re looking back as an adult you think, ‘Three weeks, how can that change?’ But when you’re in those young years of your life, three weeks can be everything.”

The three-week program length is part of our secret sauce; it's what makes EXPLO one of the best summer camps for your student. 

What makes a summer program transformational?

A community culture that encourages taking risks and trying new things. A student body that is diverse in every way and can open your child's mind to new ideas, new ways of thinking and problem-solving, and encourages them to share most authentic version of themself with others. A broad range of academic and social programming that builds courage and independence. 

These are just a few of the characteristics to look for when searching for a life-changing summer experience for your child. Looking to learn more? Download our whitepaper for everything you need to know about choosing a transformational summer program — and if EXPLO is the right fit for your family. 

Download the report

Melissa Patricio