If you’re like me, the winter season, although I love it, can feel like it drags on forever. Spring hits and we are itching for Summer days. However, for parents with young children, Summer can be stressful. School is out and it’s time to find a good Summer camp. This Summer, my little boy will go away to an overnight camp for the first time for a whole week. I would be remiss to say that I am not terrified, but I am. My son, however, is elated. It’s a major sports camp so for him, it is heaven on earth.
While doing my research on out-of-state camps, I came across a great article written by Barbara Rowley of Parenting Magazine entitled “How to Pick the Right Summer Camp for Your Kid.” In her article, Ms. Rowley discusses the struggles parents face in deciding to send their children off to camp. For example, “why does camp really matter anyway?” According to camp officials, camp, they say, let’s children roam and play in a way they rarely do in their own neighborhoods and it takes them away from computers, video games and swaps them for conversation, fun and games in a natural setting.
Bingo! The above statements ring so true. Children nowadays are stuck in the house. They are less social, over-weight and totally under-exercised. All of this is as a result of our ever changing, high-tech world. Now, do I think that we should go totally back to the days before computers? Absolutely not! However, there should be a healthy balance. For us parents who played outside until the street lights came on, went off to camp every Summer for 2 or 3 weeks and experienced the joys of swimming in the lake, hiked small mountain sides, made smores and had sing-alongs, our kids don’t know what they are missing!
If you are thinking about sending your little one off this Summer, whether that be for a day or overnight Summer camp, here are a few tips from Ms. Rowley’s article to help you navigate through the process:
Do your homework. When choosing a day camp, it’s smart to talk to camp directors before making any decision.
Check the history of the camp. There are great new camps, but older camps who have operated for decades does mean something.
What is their philosophy? Does it focus on sports? Arts? Leadership? How is this philosophy integrated into its programs?
An emphasis on creating community. Good camps think about how they place kids together to create the most inclusive experience for all. Another hallmark of community: A scholarship program.
A well-trained staff. In adequate numbers for a low campers-to-staffers ratio (about 10 to 1 for kids ages 8 to 14). The staff should be background-checked, too, with references, an interview, and a criminal records search.
An element of choice. Your child will feel more independent if he can choose some activities.
Peg Smith, Chief Executive Officer of the American Camp Association says that day camp is a good starting point for children. She says, “Kids learn about being part of a community and to cope with temporary separation. They’re not only a good transitional step for kids but also for parents, who often need to learn these same separation skills.” Personally, I totally agree. We parents, [myself included] get too attached to our little ones and we don’t always allow them to learn how to separate from us and become independent. As Ms. Rowley’s fabulous article reminds us, camps are a great, safe way to take those steps. Not only do children come home more independent, but they come home with a life time of memories and skills.
I’ll be taking my first step with my young one in July…Wish me luck!
Peace & Blessings,