As a parent, I know that planning your children’s summertime activities can be more than just a fun summertime distraction – sometimes they are an absolute necessity to keep the peace between siblings, keep your children engaged and present, and maintain your sanity during the long summer break. However, making the choice between the many different local camp offerings can be a daunting task, which is what brought me to search out these articles highlighting the top factors to consider when choosing a summer camp for your children.
The first article, titled “How to Pick the Right Summer Camp for Kids” by Barbara Rowling of Parenting.com, deals primarily with deciding on your child’s preparedness for a sleep-away camp versus a day camp, and how to choose the best camp for your child. Accreditation, camp philosophy, staffing choices, and communication plans figure prominently in her list of questions to ask before signing your child up for a camp of any kind.
The second article, by Katie Bugbee for the National Fatherhood Initiative, titled “6 Tips for Picking the Right Summer Camp for Your Child”, reminds us that your child’s opinion counts and should be a major factor when choosing a summer camp activity. Asking questions like, “What do you want to do this summer?”, “Which friends do you want to hang out with?” and “Would you want to sleep away from home for a summer camp?” makes your child part of the process and guarantees that once you’ve chosen a summer camp your child will be as invested, and interested, as he or she can be – guaranteeing a camp success.
After reading through these articles, and drawing on my own experience with summer programs, I’ve found there are three areas to focus on when looking for a summer camp or summer program that will keep your child engaged, entertained, and enthusiastic, as well as be a worthwhile investment of time and money:
- Know Your Child – Is he old enough for sleep-away camp? If not (12 is the generally accepted age for sleep-away camp), then perhaps a day camp is the better choice. Does she really love acting and theatre or has she suddenly developed a love of archery? Does he see himself as the next LeBron James? There are so many types of summer camps now that you need not automatically think campfires and tents when choosing a camp. The possibilities range from circus camps to sports camps, theatre camps, and more. Talk to your child and take their interests and concerns into consideration when finding the perfect summer activity.
- Do Your Research –Make a list of factors or practices that are of paramount importance to you and your camper, and if any of these are lacking at the camp in question, then move on to another camp. This experience should be rewarding and fulfilling for your camper, make sure the camp has what it takes to make their experience amazing.
- Determine Your Cost – There are many factors to include when determining your budget and whether the camp you’re considering is a value for the cost of tuition. Figure the cost of the program per hour and then weigh the cost against the activities that occur during the camp day. Does it seem like a valuable and worthwhile investment of your child’s time and your camp dollar? If the answer is yes, then you’ll know you’re headed in the right direction.
Summer will be here before you know it, and camps are already beginning to register students for their summer programs. Keep these three key points in mind when choosing your child’s summer activities and you’ll have stress-free, happy children all summer long.