Camp counselor and four kids sitting outside under a tree

How to Choose the Right Summer Camp for Your Child

When you think of summer camps, what comes to mind? Canoeing, sitting around the campfire eating s’mores, swimming, doing arts and crafts, and bunking with new best friends? While that is the reality for a lot of summer camps, it doesn’t paint the whole picture. Just as no two kids are the same, no two summer camp experiences are the same.

When choosing a summer camp program, take your child’s interests into consideration, as well as their physical, mental, and social needs. By doing some research and asking the right questions, you’re sure to find a great fit for your child!

Benefits of summer camps

All summer camps, no matter what type, tend to promote positive traits such as self-confidence and independence. Your child will try new things, discover new interests, and learn new skills. Summer camps can even reduce feelings of anxiety in children, as this study by the American Camp Association finds.

The social aspect of summer camps is also a big draw for many families. As your child participates in activities with their fellow campers, they’ll make new friends and practice working together as a team.

Types of summer camps

Resident, sleepaway, or overnight camps

These terms are all used to refer to camps where children spend the night for several days, weeks, or even months at a time. Resident camps are what many would consider the traditional camp experience. Your child will live onsite with fellow campers, counselors, and staff, and participate in a wide range of activities. Some resident camps specialize in one interest area while others have a broader focus.

Day camps

At day camps, children attend camp for a few hours during the day and return home for the evening. Day camps are generally cheaper than resident camps and offer more flexibility. The hours tend to be similar to traditional school hours (morning to early afternoon), with some programs offering before- and after-hours care as well.

Special needs camps

There are a variety of summer camps available that focus on providing a rich experience for children with physical disabilities, medical conditions, or mental health challenges. Check out this database to locate a camp near you.

Fine arts camps

Fine arts camps bring out the budding artist in your child. Whether it’s art, dance, music, theatre, or even photography, there are plenty of specialized summer camp programs out there that focus on helping kids hone their craft.

Sports and fitness camps

Does your child play sports at school? Why not keep it going during the summer? You can find summer camp programs focused on virtually any major sport—football, basketball, soccer, swimming, gymnastics, etc. Summer camps centered around sports and fitness can improve your child’s coordination and teamwork skills while keeping them physically active all summer.

Academic camps

Summer camps with an academic focus can reinforce the work that your student is doing throughout the year. They can also provide your student with an in-depth look at topics and subjects that interest them. There are academic camps tailored to many different subjects, including coding, math, and engineering. If your child is more interested in humanities, search for camps focused on writing, history, or language immersion.

Wildlife and animal camps

Is your child an animal lover? Summer camp programs run by organizations such as animal rescues, zoos, aquariums, or horse stables are a popular way for campers to get hands on with their favorite animals. Kids will learn about proper animal care and see what it’s like to have a career working with animals.

Virtual camps

Virtual camps have become more popular in the last few years. From the comfort of home, your child can participate in activities and get to know their fellow campers. Virtual camps often focus on things like arts and crafts, coding, writing, or educational games.

BASIS Charter Schools’ BOSS Camp

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention BASIS Charter Schools’ BOSS Camp program. The “BOSS” in BOSS Camp stands for BASIS Organizational and Study Skills. During this program, new BASIS Charter School students come together to learn about some of the organizational tools used at our campuses. BOSS Camp is also attended by current BASIS Charter School students who are transitioning into our middle school program. You can learn more about BOSS Camp here.

Is your child a BASIS Charter Schools student yet? Find out more about applying to our schools.

Questions to ask when choosing a summer camp

Determining your preferences

If you are considering sending your child to summer camp but don’t know where to start, here are a few questions to discuss with your family:

  • What is your child’s comfort level? Would they be okay with spending an extended period of time away from home at a sleepaway camp, or would they prefer a 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 would they prefer a more structured environment?
  • What is your family’s budget?
  • How far would you be willing to drive to drop off/pick up your child from camp?

Remember to include your child in discussions when looking at summer camp options. Your child will get the most out of the experience if the summer camp aligns with their interests and preferences. Exploring the camp’s website or touring the facility in person can help your child know what to expect and ease any potential worries.

Narrowing down your options

Once you’ve picked out a handful of summer camps, here are a few specific questions you can ask to narrow down your options:

  • What are the costs involved? Are the camp’s rates all-inclusive or are there added fees?
  • What credentials does the camp have? How are their employees trained?
  • What are the camp’s safety policies?
  • What are the camp’s dates and what are the hours of operation? Does this conflict with any existing summer plans?
  • Does the camp provide lunch, or do campers need to bring lunch from home? Is the camp equipped to handle dietary restrictions (if applicable)?

Finding the right camp for your child might seem challenging, but remember—it’s all about having fun! Don’t stress too much if your first-choice summer camp is full, or if a particular camp doesn’t meet all of your criteria. What’s important is that your child is being given an opportunity to learn, socialize, and stay active!

For more parenting tips, check out the latest news and resources from the BASIS Charter Schools network. With 39 locations across Arizona, Louisiana, Texas, and Washington D.C., we are committed to instilling a love of learning in our students all year long. Find a school near you and schedule a tour for more information.

Amy Licht

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