Pros and Cons of Summer Camps
Summer is a wonderful season for children to be free from the structure and work of school days. However, many parents find that their children eventually experience summer boredom and/or monotony, leading to increased screen time, lack of healthy stimulation, and even behavioral issues. One way to keep kids engaged and entertained when school is out is to enroll them in a summer camp.
There are many options for parents to consider when it comes to sending their children to summer camp. Some involve remote locations with immersive activities and overnight stays, whereas others are set up for short, daily activities such as swimming, crafts, and field trips through a local community or recreation center. With so many choices, it’s beneficial for parents to understand the pros and cons of summer camp so that they can decide the best fit for their individual child.
Summer Camp Pros
Most camps are designed for kids to not only have somewhere to spend their summer days, but to enrich their lives through exposure to new ideas, people, activities, and experiences. In fact, there are almost as many unique summer camp programs these days as there are kids, focusing on a variety of interests such as theater, sports, robotics, wilderness, and more.
If your child is new to the concept of spending time away from home during the summer, whether overnight or in daily activities, they may be resistant at first to committing to a summertime program. To help overcome such uncertainty, parents can make sure their kids understand what to expect so they become familiar with the idea of summer camp. This may involve visiting websites to see pictures or videos, or even making an in-person visit to get a sense of the people who participate and the available activities. Though you may want to reassure your child that summer camp will be end-to-end fun, it’s important to be honest when answering their questions and setting up their expectations.
Overall, there are many pros for kids who participate in some type of summertime program. Here are just some of the positive opportunities and outcomes that can take place when kids attend summer camp:
- Learning new skills
- Meeting diverse people and making friends
- Understanding the importance of teamwork as well as independence
- Embracing unique experiences and broadening worldviews
- Fostering a sense of belonging as well as self-reliance
- Appreciating the outdoors, nature, and the environment
- Having screen-free fun
- Getting fresh air and exercise
- Building confidence and self-esteem
- Creating lasting memories
Summer Camp Cons
Some parents may fondly remember their own time at summer camp and therefore assume that their children will have an ideal experience as well. However, it’s also important for parents to remember that their kids may feel differently about being away from home or spending their summertime in a structured, activity-filled environment. Frankly, summer camp may not be a good fit for your child, or your family, and forcing their enrollment or participation can result in negative consequences.
Just as there are many pros to your child attending a summertime program, there are cons to keep in mind as well when making the decision. Here are some of the potential downsides to summer camp:
- It can be expensive
- Certain programs may increase pressure on kids to perform and/or compete
- Absence from home and/or separation from family can result in anxiety
- Risk of injury and/or illness
- Lack of accommodations and/or resources for children with special needs
- Camp personnel may be inexperienced or camp may be disorganized, leading to lack of supervision
- Your child may genuinely not be developmentally ready or have the desire to go
Ultimately, parents should do their research to find organized, established, and well-reviewed summer camps for their children. In addition, it’s essential that parents consider their kids as individuals when making any summer camp decisions. This includes evaluating your child’s specific developmental and social skills to determine which type of summer camp, if any, would be a beneficial experience. If your child doesn’t seem interested, ready, or willing to attend a summer program, it’s best to wait a year and then reassess the situation.
Most importantly, parents should allow their kids to be part of the summer camp decision process so that they feel valued in terms of their input, preferences, and participation. Depending on your child’s age and developmental capabilities, you can establish some reasonable summer camp options and then discuss each one with your child to determine their levels of interest, comfort, and excitement. Allowing kids to have agency over how and where they spend their summer days will set a positive foundation of respect and self-advocacy. Children should never just be dropped off at summer camp, no matter the type, without notice or being part of the planning and decision-making.
At Cognisprings, we understand parents who are searching for experiences that develop life skills for their children and create lifetime memories. We support parents who are looking for educational toys and materials that inspire children to explore who they are and build confidence through stories, imagination, and critical thinking. That’s why we provide books, puzzles, games, and toys that are thoughtfully designed for creativity, curiosity, and fun for the entire family. In addition, Cognisprings prioritizes educational activities that are screen-free, promote healthy cognitive development, and encourage personal growth through independent play and lifelong learning.