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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  • Dance (multi)
  • Music (multi)
  • Performing Arts
  • Computer programming (multi)
  • Academic / Tutoring
  • Aquatics

  • Online; Toronto (2)
  • Age 12 to 15 (Coed)
  • From $750

With a vigorous curriculum & interactive learning environment, students the skills needed to excel in Grade 9 English! Read more

  • Burlington, ON
  • Age 8 to 12 (Girls)
  • From $399

Confidence-building fun, exploration of nature, team-building adventures, and incredible friendships that last a lifetime! Read more

  • Oakville, ON
  • Age 12 to 15 (Coed)
  • From $415

Designed to develop communication and conflict resolution skills, while building empathy for the world and those around you. Read more

  • Online
  • Age 13 to 18 (Coed)
  • From $1,750

Students will engage in interactive and collaborative activities including Mock Trials, Philosophers, Round Tables, and more! Read more

  • Burlington, ON
  • Age 1 to 4 (Coed)
  • From $240

A fast-paced 45 minutes of movement and music for Caregivers & Little(s) aged 0-4 years developing motor skills through play. Read more

  • North-York, Toronto
  • Age 3 to 12 (Coed)
  • From $65

TAC Summer Camp is a safe and fulfilling experience for youth to develop an incredibly wide variety of sports and skills ! Read more

  • Waterloo, ON
  • Age 9 to 14 (Coed)
  • From $315

This camp explores the developing industry of eSports. Learn about different careers related to this industry. Epic Gaming Read more

  • Online
  • Age 13 to 17 (Coed)
  • From $1,750

Earn a Grade 11 History credit with the guidance of our experienced instructors. Read more

  • Haliburton Highlands, ON
  • Age 14 to 15 (Coed)
  • From $4,250

Forerunners enjoy the freedom of activity selection paired with team development and leadership sessions. Read more

  • Online
  • Age 11 to 17 (Coed)
  • From $320

Ever wonder how a game like Minecraft was made? Or Terraria? Let's mine down and discover some cool coding to create . . . Read more

  • West-End, Toronto
  • Age 3 to 8 (Coed)
  • From $21,000

Experience the homeschooling approach with the benefits of socialization in a small classroom environment. Read more

  • Online
  • Age 8 to 12 (Coed)
  • From $150

Got an idea for a great game? Bring your game ideas to life! Create characters, obstacles and monsters . . . then code it! Read more

  • Online
  • Age 10 to 14 (Coed)
  • From $320

Dragons and monsters inhabit this far away kingdom! Arm your party and set out on a daring quest! You design it & code it! Read more

  • Online
  • Age 10 to 14 (Coed)
  • From $175

If you love to draw you will love to create Pixel Art characters and creatures. Bring them to life with animation! Read more

  • Welland, ON
  • Age 10 to 18 (Boys)
  • From $2,500

We are focused on helping our campers rediscover the lost art of simply being outside during summer and having fun. Read more

  • Brampton, ON
  • Age 8 to 12 (Coed)
  • From $265

Train martial arts from the comfort of your home, stay fit, reduce anxiety,. Separate on-line classes for children, teens. Read more

  • Brampton, ON
  • Age 5 to 7 (Coed)
  • From $265

Train martial arts from the comfort of your home, stay fit, reduce anxiety,. Separate on-line classes for children, teens. Read more

  • Online
  • Age 15 to 18+ (Coed)
  • From $120

University architecture and interior design programs require applicants to make an impressive portfolio. Read more

FOCUS: Drawing
APW Online
Apr 06, 2021 - Feb 06, 2022

  • Online
  • Age 16 to 18+ (Coed)
  • From $4,950

Animation Portfolio Workshop now offers the complete 228 hour comprehensive program online! Get into animation school! Read more

  • Throughout British Columbia; Ontario (5)
  • Age 3 to 18 (Coed)
  • From $600

Math drills, application of concepts, problem solving, and building a solid math foundation and developing critical-thinking. Read more

  • Parry Sound, ON
  • Age 19 to 18+ (Girls)
  • From $250

Come relax and engage on an adventurous retreat where you can re-energize, connect with friends, and explore nature! Read more

  • Throughout British Columbia; Ontario (5)
  • Age 3 to 18 (Coed)
  • From $650

The courses cover the principles of standard English grammar, sentence structure, and English usage and diction. Read more

  • Online
  • Age 11 to 18 (Coed)
  • From $325

Learn planning, prioritizing, time management, sustained attention, goal-directed persistence, and task initiation skills. Read more

  • Online
  • Age 13 to 18 (Coed)
  • From $300

Students learn strategies to improve reading speed, comprehension and recall, necessary for success in high school & beyond! Read more

  • Parry Sound, ON
  • Age 6 to 18 (Coed)
  • From $5,239

Campers with learning disabilities, ADHD and high-functioning ASD have the opportunity to experience success at Camp Kodiak! Read more

  • Throughout British Columbia; Ontario (5)
  • Age 3 to 18 (Coed)
  • From $600

The courses cover the principles of standard English grammar, sentence structure, and English usage and diction. Read more

  • East-End, Toronto
  • Age 4 to 12 (Coed)
  • From $55

Prepare for your day by waking your body with active stretching, core and movement work. Read more

  • Richmond Hill, ON
  • Age 4 to 12 (Coed)
  • From $50


  • Oakville, ON
  • Age 11 to 14 (Coed)
  • From $330

Build fundamental skills to enhance success in rugby and develop leadership skills both on and off the field Read more

FOCUS: Writing
Writing Tutoring
Feb 03, 2020 - Dec 31, 2021

  • Oakville, ON
  • Age 8 to 18 (Coed)
  • From $200

Sylvan Writing is personalized and starts with an assessment. This allows us to build a program specifically tailored for you Read more

  • Throughout British Columbia; Ontario (5)
  • Age 3 to 18 (Coed)
  • From $650

Accelerated development of a solid math foundation to develop critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. Read more

  • Mississauga, ON
  • Age 7 to 14 (Coed)
  • From $150

Kids have a blast building awesome video games and developing ninja coding skills on the path from white to black belt! Read more

  • Online
  • Age 9 to 18+ (Coed)
  • From $5,000

Strengthen your brain at home online while working with trained facilitators. Improve your comprehension, reasoning and more. Read more

  • Online
  • Age 8 to 18+ (Coed)
  • From $0

This program gives children the opportunity to socialize with each other while participating in thoughtful programming. Read more

  • Online
  • Age 6 to 12 (Coed)
  • From $120

Coding helps to develop logical thinking & creativity. Children build story, games, animations with canadian STEAM-educator. Read more

  • Online
  • Age 15 to 18+ (Coed)
  • From $120

This course provides students with the drawing skills needed to get accepted into Sheridan, Seneca and Calarts Animation. Read more

FOCUS: Architecture
Design Drawing
Jun 06, 2021 - Jan 02, 2022

  • Online
  • Age 15 to 18+ (Coed)
  • From $120

Teens learn how to draw their own designs for their interior design and architecture portfolios in this 8 week online course. Read more


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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