Tips for Choosing Summer Camps
One of the joys of the summer season for some children, and their parents, is enrolling in summer camp. These programs can benefit families by providing kids with healthy stimulation, creative opportunities, learning experiences, and social interactions while on break from school.
Of course, not all summer camps are a good fit for all kids. Therefore, it’s important to consider many factors regarding summertime programs, and especially what would best suit your individual child so they have a rewarding experience with positive memories. Here are some tips for choosing summer camps for your kids.
Know the Options
At one time, the concept of summer camp was primarily a rustic setting in which groups of kids participated in outdoor activities such as swimming, hiking, and singing by a campfire. Though some of these traditional summer camps remain an option, there is an unprecedented variety of current programs available to kids during the summertime. Some options include lengthy camps that require international travel with language and cultural immersion, whereas others focus on unique academic or creative experiences such as engineering or dramatic arts. Your community may even offer simpler summer camp choices such as weekly story time at the library or daily swimming lessons at a local recreation center.
With so many options available, parents and kids alike may have a difficult time making a choice. To avoid such pressure, here are some helpful questions to consider when looking at available summer camp options:
- What is a reasonable family budget for summer camp?
- Is my child emotionally, socially, and/or developmentally ready to be away from home overnight or for an extended period of time?
- Would my child benefit more from a structured schedule of events or a more spontaneous environment?
- Does my child have special needs and/or require certain accommodations?
- Is it important for my child to experience the outdoors and nature or is it more beneficial for my child to learn something academic in a more formal setting ?
- Does my child thrive in competitive situations?
- Would my child appreciate opportunities for artistic expression?
- What is a reasonable family commitment for summer camp in terms of time, resources, interests, etc.?
Do Extensive Research
Once you’ve had the chance to narrow down some summer camp options, it’s imperative to research the programs you are considering. To find safe, organized, and established summer programs, it’s essential that parents visit websites and familiarize themselves with the activities, accommodations, supervision, and structure being offered. Most summer camps should provide detailed information and schedules, as well as pictures, videos, and a list of supervising personnel. If possible, making an in-person visit with your child before enrolling is an excellent way to meet the people in charge, view participants, and get an overall idea of the environment and activities.
Reading reviews is also a good strategy to get a sense of how others would rate the quality of a particular summer program. If you happen to know a friend or acquaintance whose child has participated in a summer camp, take the opportunity to ask them questions and get recommendations. Above all, trust your instincts. You know your child best, and if you don’t feel that a certain summer camp would be a good fit for them as an individual, or if you find any safety or standard concerns, then it’s wise to pursue a different option.
Talk with the Kids
Of course, before choosing a summer camp, it’s essential to evaluate what type of program would benefit your child, assess their developmental readiness, and make sure that they are genuinely interested in going. Though most summer programs are focused on providing fun and enriching experiences, the thought of being away from home for an extended time, or even separated from family for short periods each day, may be overwhelming to your child. Therefore, it’s important to talk honestly with your kids about enrolling in or attending summer camp well beforehand so they have a clear idea of what to expect and a voice in the decision-making process.
When kids feel that their input is valued, they are more likely to be excited about participating in a summertime program. Once you have considered the options and done some research, you and your child can discuss which summer camps fit their level of comfort and interest. This will likely lead to fun, educational, and memorable experiences that enhance your child’s confidence and world view.
At Cognisprings, we understand parents who are searching for experiences that develop life skills for their children and create lasting memories. This includes supporting parents who are looking for educational toys and materials that inspire children to discover who they are through exploring stories, building imagination, and applying critical thinking. 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.