Spring has sprung early this year.
Before you know it, in another couple of months, summer will be here, too. And according to children’s health expert Kimberly Blaker, it’s not too soon to be planning now for summer camp. Whether you’re seeking enrichment for your children; a way to keep them occupied and supervised while you work; or you just need a short reprieve from parenting, there’s sure to be a summer camp right for your children and family.
Summer camp offers kids plenty of benefits, as Blaker recently noted, and many kids are thrilled with the idea of going away to camp. Still, for some kids, particularly those who are shy, introverted or homebodies, the thought of going away for a night, let alone a week or more, can cause considerable anxiety. When kids are adamantly opposed to it, forcing summer camp on them may not be in their best interest.
But for kids who are eager––or at least willing to give it a shot without much fuss––summer camp offers opportunities that they may not have elsewhere. Summer camp provides kids such benefits as:
- fostering independence;
- a place to develop new and lasting friendships;
- the development of new skills;
- the discovery of new interests and hobbies;
- the opportunity for creative expression;
- a break from being plugged in to electronica;
- daily exercise;
- improved self-esteem;
- working well with others;
- being a part of a community;
- and preventing or reducing summer-related learning loss.
Before you begin looking into summer camps, create a list of the criteria you’re looking for. Here are some things you’ll want to consider:
- What is the purpose of sending your child to summer camp?
- Do you want a resident (overnight) or a day camp?
- Are you looking for a short-term (week or two) or summer-long program?
- Do you want a very structured camp or one that provides your child with lots of freedom and choices?
What are your child’s preferred sports, hobbies or other interests?
Once you’ve narrowed down some of the criteria, you can begin your search. An excellent place to start is your local parent-themed magazine. Many summer camps advertise in such publications, available at newsstands and over the Internet. You may also consult the Website at www.summercamps.com, where you can search by ZIP code or category.
The American Camp Association accredits summer camps, so this is another excellent resource to check. The ACA educates camp owners and directors in health, safety and program quality for both staffers and campers as well. It then accredits camps that meet ACA standards.
Find out what kind of safety training the camp provides its staffers. Are there staffers trained in CPR, on hand at all times? What are the camp’s procedures in the event your child becomes ill, has an accident or an emergency?
Remember, although there are many great camps, none is likely to offer everything precisely the way you want it. Just choose the one that best fits your child and satisfies your most important criteria. Your child will have many summers to come and plenty more opportunities for more exciting camp experiences.
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