Why free-choice individualized programming?

While it may be quite a mouthful to say, free-choice individualized programming is a very important part of the Timber Ridge Camp experience. For those who are not familiar with our program, you may be wondering what exactly this is!

Our free-choice individualized programming allows campers to explore their interests and create their own schedule while at camp. Many camps around the country reveal that they only allow campers to choose one or two activity periods a day, with the remaining periods being a fixed schedule.  We disagree with this method. While this method does make the act of scheduling easier on the staff, we do not believe that it provides the most ideal summer camp experience for the children. We are here for the children after all, not ourselves. We choose to differentiate ourselves by allowing our campers to choose all six of their daily activity periods!

So what are the benefits of free-choice scheduling?

Over the years at Timber Ridge Camp we have found a great number of benefits that come from free-choice scheduling. Below we will discuss the three benefits which we find most important.

  • Autonomy and Self-Reliance

Choices in the summer camp setting are very important to the development of self-reliance and a sense of autonomy. When we offer children choices, we are allowing them to practice the skills of independence and responsibility, while we guard their health and safety by controlling and monitoring the options. This strengthens their sense of responsibility to themselves and acts as proof that they do have impact and influence over their life. It is this foundation of autonomy that our second benefit, self esteem, is able to build upon.

  • Self Esteem

One simple fact of life is that being in control and making your own decisions feels good. The ability to go from decision, to action, to success does wonders for self-esteem. We encourage children to explore the 40+ activities we have to offer and to step outside of their comfort zone from time to time. When a camper pushes themselves to overcome a fear, hesitation, or anxiety that they once had, the joy of success is truly contagious. Only through making their own choices can children discover who they are and explore what brings them true happiness.

  • Cooperation

We find that children become must more involved and motivated in activities when they have made the conscious choice to be there. It ensures that activities are filled with campers who are motivated, excited, and willing to learn. Engagement in camp activities and collective enthusiasm promotes cooperation within groups of children better than any other method we have found. Once a child learns cooperation in a specific circumstance, such as a team sport, they better able to practice it in other aspects of their life.


As you can see we believe choice to be a very influential factor in the development of children. We have set out to provide a structure at our summer camp that promotes this concept and the children have benefited greatly from it. Not only are we able to provide our campers with a fun filled summer, but we are able to promote self-reliance, self-esteem, and cooperation. To find out more information on the activities we offer, our philosophies, or our facilities, please feel free to explore our webpage. We also encourage enrolled families and those interested in camp to contact us directly at trcamps@aol.com.

We look forward to seeing all of our wonderful campers again in 2017, and look forward to those who will be joining for their first time!

See you soon!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *