We’re in the middle of summertime, which means it’s probably your last chance to sign up your children for a summer camp. Determining the best summer camp for your children can be a hard task. There are a lot to choose from and it’s only natural for a parent to want the best experience for their kids. In this article, we’ll give some tips on how to pick the right summer camp for kids.
Pick the right summer camp for kids by observing their interests
Determining the right summer camps for your children often requires you to examine what they like. A soccer camp may be a good fit for kids who like athletics, but may not be the best choice for children who are more inclined towards art and vice versa. At the same time, summer camps can be a great way to get your children to explore new things.
Good thing for us, nowadays, summer camps are more than just heading to a generic cabin and canoe-filled forest where camp counsellors do crafts and activities with kids, culminating in a final performance for the parents. Summer camps can be one-day events or last several weeks, and they can focus on robotics, martial arts, music, sciences and even entrepreneurialism. The CBC did an article on 7 alternative summer camps available in Canada, which included nothing less than a zombie apocalypse survival camp, of course! That should help inspire your search for more ideas!
Use your children’s interests to help them grow over the summer
One possible way to get your children interested in summer camp and stretch their boundaries would be to look for camps that have a little bit of both qualities.
For example, if your kids are interested in art but uncomfortable with athletics, you can enroll them in a circus camp like this one. Your kids will learn to perform beautiful acrobatic moves (this incorporates their interest in art) while also learning how to train their bodies to do athletic maneuvers (this forces them to go outside of their comfort zone).
Keep in mind we are not saying that circus camp is the answer for every child who is interested in art and needs some athletic training. This is just one example. You might want to try using your kids’ interests as springboards into other potential new talents. As another example, if your kids are shy but love music, get them to enroll in rock and roll camp. They’ll go for the music but they can grow and become outgoing by performing on stage.
There are likely several themed summer camps you can find both locally and abroad, if your child is old enough, and brave enough, to travel on their own.
Should we ‘force’ children to go to camp?
Watching this video on YouTube of a bad summer camp experience where a child was afraid to use the bathroom for a week, you can see that summer camp isn’t necessarily a good idea for everyone. We’re not talking about the day camps (though those can be tough in some circumstances too). Some camps are far away and last weeks, if not months. Not all kids may be suited for these, even if they sound like they would be a blast for anyone.
It can be difficult to know when we as parents are pushing too hard. Growth doesn’t happen by staying in the comfort zone. But if you stretch too far, an experience can be quite negative for a child. Unfortunately, there is no magic formula to determine if a child should or shouldn’t go to summer camp. Every child is different. Perhaps the best way is to observe and see if your children have attachment issues when you part with them for shorter periods, like at school or places like Sunday school. Or perhaps when a babysitter takes care of them for a few hours before bedtime (when they know they won’t see you until morning).
Check in with camp counsellors to ask them if your kids are exhibiting any symptoms of attachment problems. If it seems like they are getting overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to pull your children out.
Understanding your child can help you make the right decision
But remember, you need to know your child well enough to determine if they are experiencing either discomfort or trauma when attending camp. The discomfort is often necessary for growth, but trauma can be damaging. It’s the latter that you don’t want. Keep this in mind when trying to decide which — or if — summer camp is the right thing for your child.
One final note – if your kids are a bit older, see if they can go to camps as counsellors instead of registrants. It can mean a lot to the younger ones to know they have a ‘big sis’ or ‘big bro’ to be there for them when parents aren’t around. It’ll also teach the teens some great responsibility skills.