Happy Campers: How to Select the Right Summer Camp for Your Child
What does a summer camp experience look like to you? Canoeing, sitting around the campfire downing s’mores, swimming, doing arts and crafts, and bunking with new best friends? While that is a reality for a lot of campers, it doesn’t paint the whole picture. Just as no two kids are the same, no two camp experiences are identical either.
What is consistent is the concept that camp is a growth opportunity. Experts generally believe that a temporary separation, even for a few hours, can be a positive experience for most children. Camp provides that separation while promoting self-confidence, independence, teamwork, and leadership.
When choosing a program, take into consideration what your child’s interests, physical, mental, and social needs are. There are a lot of options to choose from, and camps come in all shapes and sizes.
Selecting the Right Camp
Resident or Sleepaway camps offer your child what you might consider the traditional experience. They live onsite with fellow campers, counselors, and staff during sessions that last a few days, weeks or even months. The resident camp will engage your child in a wide range of activities, sometimes specializing in one interest area.
Day camps are a good choice for a lot of reasons. They are generally less cost prohibitive, offer flexible options in terms of sessions (often ½ and full day), and work well for children who may not be ready for resident camp yet. They, too, can offer a wide range of activities or a single focus.
Special needs camps provide a rich experience for children with physical disabilities, medical conditions, and mental health challenges. Check out this list of resources for more information.
Fine arts programsbring out the budding artist in your camper.Encouraging creativity, you can find camps in just about any arts discipline: theatre, visual art, dance, and music.
Sports and fitness camps focused on gymnastics, football, soccer, and swimming (to name a few) keep your camper active, and can improve their coordination, teamwork skills, and fitness.
Wildlife and animal programs at rescue shelters, state parks, aquariums, game & fish departments, horse stables, and zoos are a great way to get your animal-loving camper behind-the-scenes, and hands-on.
Virtual camps that encourage adventure right from the comfort of home in coding, wildlife, engineering, and storytelling (to name a few!) have become more popular within the last few years.
Academic camps can reinforce the work that your student is doing throughout the year. It can also provide an in-depth look at topics and subjects for which your student has shown interest. Schools and universities nationwide offer specialized programs in engineering and robotics, in addition to refresher courses in math, science, and English. In fact, BASIS Charter Schools offers all grade 4 students the opportunity to attend the BASIS Organizational and Study Skills (BOSS) Camp.
Our camp is a set of courses designed to help students transitioning from grade 4 to 5 with their organizational, note taking, and time management skills. It also prepares them for their new school environment and class structure. For more information, contact your local BASIS Charter School. Is your child a BASIS student yet? Find out more about applying here.
Narrow Your Search Down
To help avoid paralysis by analysis, here are a few questions to ask:
- Where is your child’s comfort level? Resident or day camp?
- Would your child prefer a range of activities or more of a single focus?
- Does your child like a lot of free time to explore or a more structured environment?
- What is your family’s budget?
- What credentials does the camp have? How are their employees trained?
- What are their specific policies regarding safety, and behavioral expectations?
- How long are the program sessions and what are the hours of operation?
- What are the costs involved? Are the rates all-inclusive or are there added fees?
Finding just the right camp for your child can be an involved process, but with some research and a little soul searching, this summer could be as rewarding as you hoped it would be!
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