Be inspired by this list of summer camp ideas that keep kids learning all through vacation, even while they are having a warm weather blast with their friends.
If you are looking for a way to keep your kids in the learning game this summer, there are many fun options to choose from. Summer camps, whether scheduled for a day or a week, are an excellent opportunity for students to explore subjects and embark on adventure during the summer season. Camps may be held during the day, or consist of consecutive overnights to give participants a true feel for the camping experience. With subjects ranging from science to performing arts, you are sure to find a camp your child will love.
Benefits of Summer Camp
According to the Cigna website, there are many benefits children may enjoy from attending a summer camp, including:
- Unique experience helps children broaden social skills
- Embarking on new activities builds self esteem
- Opportunity to form long-lasting friendships
- Learn important skills like leadership and communication
- Teaches children resiliency and responsibility
- Additional physical activity provides health benefits
With many advantages to be gained from attending a camp this summer, the next question for parents becomes how to choose the best camp for their child’s needs. Fortunately, there are a number of resources available to help parents make the best choice for their kids.
Choosing a Summer Camp
The National Camp Association recommends beginning the selection process by asking the following questions:
- What do you want your child to take away from the summer camp experience?
- Does your child have any specific interests he would like to explore at camp?
- What are you and your child’s expectations of summer camp?
- What type of environment will be best for your child?
- What type of social interactions will your child want and be comfortable with?
- Does your child have any physical, emotional or mental limitations that should be considered?
- Is your child comfortable sleeping away from home, or is a day camp a better choice?
There is a huge range of summer camp options available for kids today. Camps vary in terms of size, location, programs and activities and cost. It is important to weigh all of these factors in your final decision to ensure you choose a camp both you and your child are comfortable with and will provide the activities your child wants at a price you can afford.
To ensure the camp you choose for your child has a proven track record for success, look for a camp that is registered with the American Camp Association. Some may even have ACA accreditation, according to the National Summer Learning Association. Accreditation indicates the camp staff has gone through rigorous training and adheres to certain standards of operation and safety. You should also ask the camp directly about some of the following concerns:
- Age and experience of the camp director
- Type of child the camp is geared toward
- Proximity of the camp’s facilities
- Daily schedule for the campers
- Training for the camp staff
- Availability of medical services
- Ratio of counselors to campers
- What is the menu and how is it served
- Sleeping and restroom/shower arrangements
It is also a good idea to ask the camp director to supply references, as well as the names of other families that have attended the camp. If you know others that have attended the camp in the past, talk to the parents about the type of experience their child had and whether they would send their child back to that same camp again.
Preparing Your Child for Camp
Once the summer camp has been chosen, it’s time to prepare your child for the adventure they are about to undertake. The American Camp Association suggests gauging your child’s readiness for the camp experience by considering the following factors:
- How old is your child?
- Why does your child want to attend summer camp?
- Does your child have sleepovers with friends or family members and is it a positive experience?
- What does your child want to do at summer camp?
- Does your child seem to have a positive attitude toward attending summer camp?
Some of these questions gauge the readiness of your child to spend an extended block of time away from home. As a general rule, children under the age of seven may not be comfortable spending more than a few hours a day in a foreign environment. In addition, the questions will help you evaluate your child’s expectations for summer camp, to ensure they are realistic and likely to be met. From your child’s answers, the two of you can discuss the camp experience to ensure your child is ready to embrace the experience once it arrives.
Types of Camps Available
One of the best features of the summer camp is the many specializations and learning focuses these camps offer. Even within a single camp, the activities and programs may be sufficiently diverse to appeal to a broad base of campers. Some of the most popular activities offered by summer camps today include:
- Sports, both team and individual sports, on dry land and in the water
- Outdoor adventure, including hiking, rock climbing, rafting and backpacking
- Science courses where students can study everything from geology to physics and computing
- Performing arts, such as music, theatre, dance and even circus performing
- Arts and crafts, from basketry and sculpture to journalism and photography
Summer camps are a wonderful way for kids to take a break from the traditional classroom setting without losing all the wonderful content they learned during the previous school year. With plenty of learning opportunities, adventure and fun, it’s no wonder summer camps have become a mainstay for many families today.
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