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How to Choose the Right Summer Camp for Your Child

What comes to mind when you think of summer camps? Canoeing, sitting around a campfire eating s’mores, swimming, doing arts and crafts, and bunking with new best friends? While that is the reality for some summer camps, it doesn’t paint the whole picture. As you may have realized if you’ve started the process of searching for summer camps for your child, there is a huge variety of camps to choose from!

Having a wide array of summer camp opportunities near you allows you to find a summer camp that speaks to your child’s specific interests and passions. But at the same time, it may be difficult to narrow down your options and find a camp that checks all of your boxes.

Learn more about the benefits of attending summer camp, different types of summer camps and how to choose a summer camp for your child. By doing some research and asking the right questions, you’re sure to find a great fit for your child!

Benefits of summer camps

No matter what type of summer camp your child attends, summer camps tend to promote positive traits such as self-confidence and independence. At camp, 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

Resident camps, sleepaway camps and overnight camps are all terms used to refer to summer 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 particular interest areas 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. Day camps are often centered around a particular theme or interest area.

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

BASIS Phoenix Primary Photoshoot-85

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 concepts that your student has learned during the school 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.

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 special needs summer camp near you.

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.

Two high school boys completing a science experiment together

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’s school offer any summer programs? (Many BASIS Charter Schools do!)
  • Does your child like a lot of free time to explore and play 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 summer 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 you’re interested in, 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)?

Do BASIS Charter Schools offer summer camps?

Before you lock down a summer camp option for your child—have you checked to see if their school offers any summer programs? Many BASIS Charter School campuses offer summer camp programs that keep students engaged and learning over summer break! Summer camp offerings vary by campus, so be sure to reach out to your school for specific information.

Here is a sample of some types of summer camp programs offered at BASIS Charter Schools:

  • Computer Skills Camp: In this camp, students learn crucial computer skills with hands-on activities in PowerPoint, Word and typing.
  • Around the World Camp: Each day of camp, students will learn about a new culture by doing a craft, playing a game, learning a language or trying regional food.
  • Mad Scientist Camp: This science-themed summer camp features explosive experiments, wild reactions and mind-bending discoveries.
  • BOSS Camp: BOSS stands for BASIS Organizational and Study Skills. During this program, new BASIS Charter School students learn about some of the organizational tools used at our campuses.

Not a BASIS Charter Schools family? Find a school near you and schedule a tour to learn more about our highly ranked, tuition-free public charter schools.

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 you’re having trouble finding a camp that meets all your criteria. What’s important is that your child is being given an opportunity to learn, socialize and stay active!

For more educational resources, check out the latest news and resources from the BASIS Charter Schools network. With 40 locations across Arizona, Louisiana, Texas, and Washington D.C. we are committed to instilling a love of learning in our students all year long!

Amy Licht
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