5 things parents should know before choosing a summer camp
(BPT) – Looking for a cure for the winter blues? Start making plans for the summer. Having something fun to look forward to — such as days off and family trips — can make those dreary days more bearable. One thing you’ll want to add to your summer planning list is finding a great summer camp or two for your kids.
Even before leaves start appearing on the trees, many organizations begin announcing dates and enrollment for summer camp sessions. Get a jump start on the process with this guide to choosing an enriching summer activity, where your child will also have a blast.
* First, know the best places to look: You may not be aware of the number of great summer day camps taking place around your community. Start with college campuses, parks and recreation departments, local school districts and churches. Be sure to tune in to nonprofits, like performing arts centers, museums and your local animal shelter or zoo. Finally, ask the other adults in your child’s life for the inside scoop. The art teacher, soccer coach and scout leader may be in the know about the best camps in town.
* Look for the immersive experience: When you think about it, “camp” is an odd word choice. But look at what sleep-away camp means to kids, and it makes sense. Yes, it’s fun to sleep in a cabin and spend all day sailing, swimming and climbing. What’s key is that these kids are immersed in a new reality that’s different from the usual home and school routines. So when a local organization bills an activity a “camp,” they promise an experience that lets your kid jump in and become a part of something. When choosing the right camp, look for that quality. Is there a clear theme or topic? Will kids be active and involved? Or is the “camp” just made up of a series of talks led by adults?
* Make sure your child is on board: Consider your child’s interests and how camp can make them stronger. Your play-acting child with a flair for drama will probably thrive and bloom at theater camp. However, if camp is a strategy to help them improve at something they struggle with, make sure the program is designed for these kids, or you’re setting them up for a session of misery. After all, you wouldn’t send your sports-loathing child to, say, a high-intensity wrestling camp, to make them more athletic.
* Don’t forget the fun factor: What makes camp truly memorable is having fun, so make sure the camp you’re looking at takes fun seriously. For example, Blake Furlow, CEO of Bricks 4 Kidz, says kids keep coming back to their camps partly because these sessions bring building with LEGO Bricks to the next level of fun and exciting. But watching their enjoyment unfold during the camp is also massively rewarding. “Seeing the kids light up, get excited and make new connections during a Bricks 4 Kidz class is a heart-warming experience,” Furlow says.
* Consider longevity: When looking at various programs, a good question to ask is how long the camp has been around. New summer camp themes and programs can sound exciting and fresh, but it takes a few rounds to work out the kinks with any new organization. Choosing well-established programs with experienced leaders is one way to ensure that your child will get that worthwhile and fun experience with a new activity.