Summer camps for kids help to develop character and life skills; friendship and fun; discover new potentials and nurture existing talents. Summer camps help children to stretch their imaginations and display their skills in a wide array of camp activities. Summer camp is full of fun, thrills and adventure and yet an opportunity for new experiences and learning. Check out how to select a summer camp for children.
Kid summer camp
Every parent needs to ask some key questions before selecting the type of summer camp appropriate for the child. There are occasions when a parent sends the child to the summer camp he / she had attended when young. The camp may have changed over the years and there may be differences between the parent and child's needs and desires. Again choosing a camp for a child because a friend had enjoyed is a wrong assumption as your child simply need not enjoy just because the other one did. The interests, goals and expectations may radically differ from one child to another.
In general all parents need to query themselves as to what do they and their child hope to achieve by the camp experience. The choice of summer camp will depend upon the answer to this question. Since the summer camp experience is bound to have a significant impact on the child, it is important that the camps be chosen wisely. The parent must take an effort and understand what the child wants and why.
- What does the child want from the camp experience - learning new skills, developing self confidence, improving proficiency or to become more independent?
- Does the child want to explore any special interest and needs?
- Does the child suffer from any physical, intellectual or social limitations that need to be corrected?
- What kind of camp will benefit the child most?
Child summer camps
Traditional camps: Such camps offer a wide variety of activities including outdoor recreation, arts and crafts, team activities and much more. In a traditional camp, kids have the option to select their favorite activities from a given list. The kids can spend as much or as little time on each or any of the activity as they choose. Traditional camps are ideal for those kids who love to do many different things as they may get easily bored with one particular type of activity.
Traditional camps can either be 'day camps' or 'sleep away camps'. Day camps allow the children to participate in camp activities during the day and stay at home during the evening and night. Sleep away camp as the name indicates, is where kids stay at camp under the supervision of adult guardians for a week or sometimes even a month's time depending upon the type of program chosen.
Day camps are a good alternative to day care. They usually focus on younger children. Day camps are less expensive than overnight camps. Sports focused day camps are ideal for young kids training to be athletes whose enthusiasm for particular sports seems endless and also for high energy kids who likes to run around and play as long and as much as possible! Sleep away camps is a sort of summer residential program where the campers enjoy daily and evening activities.
Specialized camps: Such kid summer camps focus on any one activity like dance or baseball, horseback riding or gymnastics, sailing or wilderness, tennis or chess. This type of camp is aimed at children intent on improving performance in the specialized activity and so the majority of the time is devoted to any one such activity. Sometimes specialty camps are organized for special needs taken into consideration. Camps geared at weight loss, special diet, learning disability, non-English speaking, physically challenged or attention deficit disorders are some instances of specialized summer camps. Here the staff and facilities are also specialized to provide intensive training and experience in a single area. Children undergoing such specialized summer camps should be extremely motivated in any one specific activity. These kids should be those who can concentrate on one thing for long periods of time.
Choosing kid summer camp
Size of the summer camp: Camps vary in size. While some summer camps have less than hundred campers some have more than four hundred. Smaller camps could be advantageous to foster special needs and environment as the campers and staff get to know each other personally well. Individual needs of the kids can be quickly met. In large camps, the campers are usually divided into smaller sub units. This in a way makes possible the interactions as in a smaller camp. A good camp offers best quality camp experience to the child, irrespective of the size of the camp.
Rather than looking at only the size of the camp, a good parent must evaluate at how qualities such as confidence are being built in a child by the camp. How is the sense of self worth met and taught in a camp? The answers to such questions will help identify the appropriate camp size depending upon the nature of the child.
Location of the camp: Many parents decide the camp that child should go depending upon the distance of the camp site from home. There are excellent camps in other states that should be a good experience for the child irrespective of the distance. Some parents would want to consider the cost factor involved while choosing the camp location. Parents also look at the proximity of the camp their other children are attending during the summer time. Parents should consider factors such as camp environment, security, medical facilities and accessibility which are more important than how close the child is to home from the camp.
Type of camp: Generally camps are all boys, all girls or brother and sister. Coed camps offer extensive interaction between boys and girls through common activities. Common facilities such as dining hall or water fronts also allow mixing of boys and girls. In all boys, all girls' camps they have separate activities and facilities. In brother and sister camps, either the facilities may be located adjacent to each other or sometimes even miles apart. The child's age and temperament need be considered before deciding on the type of camp.
Summer Camp activities
Most of the general camps provide programs such as team sports like soccer and basket ball or individual sports such as tennis, waterfront activities of swimming and sailing and outdoor life options in hiking and canoeing. A list of common camp activities are listed below:
- Adventure: Rope courses, camp crafts, rafting, rock climbing, outdoor cooking, hiking.
- Creative arts: Drawing, basketry, leatherwork, metalwork, crafts, painting, photography, sculpture, weaving, ceramics, wood work.
- Performing arts: Acting, magic, script writing, costuming, lighting, makeup, ballet, rock music, jazz, choreography, dance, instrumental, circus arts.
- Team sports: Baseball, field hockey, football, volley ball, ice hockey.
- Individual sports: Archery, fishing, golf, gymnastics, martial arts, wrestling, biking, weight training, riding, figure skating, aerobics, fencing
- Water sports: Kanaking, diving, sailing, scuba, snorkeling, waterskiing, jet skiing
- Science: Geology, gardening, biology, farming, nature, astronomy, ecology, computing, archaeology, physics, radio, aviation
- Education: Foreign language, academic enrichment, English as second language
- Travel: Community service, biking and wilderness.
Costs of child summer camp
Every parent carefully needs to assess the family's financial limitations regarding camp costs. There are non profit camps and federation camps which are less expensive and available for summer than private expensive sleep away camps. But a parent should regard and remember a good camp experience can be a 'long term investment' that will help improve and affect many areas of the child's life.
However the cost of the camps may vary depending upon the activities and location of each program. The cost of traditional and specialty camps also differ. Parents need to consider what camp they can reasonably afford taking into account the extra inbuilt costs like camp uniform, charges for trips, transportation, cost of visiting the camp and extra spending the child need to do apart from food, entertainment and childcare facilities cost at the camp.
Identify kid summer camp
Parents need to develop a comprehensive list of possible camps that appear to meet the specifications and priority of the child. Once the list of possibilities is developed, the parent has to choose the right camp for his/her child. In order to narrow down the possibilities, a barrage of queries can be addressed and the one that makes most sense to the parent and child can be the 'chosen camp'. Some of the model questions are:
- What is the camp's objective and goal?
- How long has the camp been operating?
- What are the facilities for sleeping or toilet and shower that the camp has and how convenient for the camper?
- What are the food facilities and who prepares the food?
- Is the programs in the camp structured or the emphasis is on free choice?
- What kind of staff training is provided? What is the director's background?
- What is the staff camper ratio?
- What is the popularity rating of the camp? What percentage of campers return each year?
- What medical facilities are available for the camper?
- Does the camp provide insurance cover?
- Is there a refund policy if the camper leaves early?
- How does the camp program meet individual needs and differences?
- What is the total cost of the camp?
A good camp should be able to answer these parental concerns in a healthy manner. It should be an exciting and enriching time for the children. It would probably be better for parents in the US to choose camps accredited by the 'American Camping Association' which has set standards for staff training, first aid, health care and transportation facilities for summer camps.