Benefits of chess camp
Participation in a chess camp offers a number of benefits for kids. These include the following:
It develops strategic thinking. Chess is all about planning and foresight, of course. Kids who develop their interest in chess early gain a leg up in this area. To win a chess match, you need to think several moves ahead. The more you play, the more strategic your thinking becomes. Kids learn to plan, to mental map, and to think through possibilities quicker, the more they apply themselves to chess play.
It increases concentration and memory. Studies show that kids who play chess regularly have significantly better visual memory and concentration. Chess play rewards focus.
Kids learn to take calculated risks. A study published in 2021 showed that kids who play chess regularly learned how to calculate risk and were less likely to be risk averse. In a typical game of chess there are sacrifices made, and kids learn to consider the net gain of moves. Kids with chess playing experience were able to evaluate risks more effectively. “The line between necessary calculated risk-taking and reckless behaviour is sometimes difficult to determine. Learning chess can help bridge that gap," said the study’s authors.
Kids develop logic, critical thinking, and creativity. Chess exercises both the right and left sides of the brain. In chess play, you consider the logic of every move and try to foresee an opponent’s counter-moves several steps in advance. Players must also use their imagination. Robert Ferguson of Pennsylvania’s American Chess School conducted a study comparing kids who play chess versus those who play video games. Chess players scored 13 percentage points higher in critical thinking and 35 percentage points higher in creative thinking.
It gets kids away from screens. Developing and nurturing kids’ interest in chess helps them stay away from phones, social media, and binge-watching. Screen time diminishes their ability to concentrate and has been shown to have detrimental effects on mental health. It’s also shown to contribute to obesity, low self esteem and can lead to poorer academic performance, among a host of other ills.
Kids improve social connections. Chess is an interactive game, and chess camps multiply this interactivity. Children develop their connection to others across the chess board, even as they compete. In a camp environment, they meet and play against other enthusiasts from their area, grow friendships, and deepen their enthusiasm for the game together. It’s a healthy way of competing and learning from each other.
Looking to do more research?
Camp might seem like an easy decision, but it’s not. There are many types of camps—in fact, there are many types of computer programming camps! It’s best to get a sense of the landscape before you make your decision. A great place to start is the Our Kids camp expo, held each winter in Toronto. You’ll find many camps there, including computer programming camps, and you can speak with directors, staff, and campers. We also offer valuable information sessions at the expo.
For young chess aficionados whose first taste of camp is a chess camp like those above, other camps might develop chess skills and encourage related interests. Here are some suggestions:
Math camp can improve kids’ abstract thinking and introduce and improve some advanced mathematics skills.
Coding camp is an opportunity to develop programming skills and improve logic. While this learning might apply to improved chess play, on another hand, it’s also a means of applying some skills kids learn on the chess board and applying those to something eminently practical and potentially career-oriented (and lucrative!)
Other game-oriented camps include LEGO camp and Minecraft camp.
Sources and further reading
"Playing chess improves children's capacity to take calculated risks, study finds." ABC.net. Emma Siossian and Cameron Marshall
"7 benefits of chess for kids." Mybrainblox.com