Kids have anticipated this all year long – summer vacation. In my adolescent years, I remember my summer vacations being the best time of my life. I had no responsibilities, I can sleep in all day, I didn’t have homework and I had lots of time to hang out and do whatever I wanted. Yes, those were the days.
Growing up in a small town, my parents never worried about keeping us busy as we kept ourselves busy playing outside in a relatively safe environment for free! Living in a quiet small town definitely had its advantages. With minimal opportunity to get into “trouble” with the law, parents were less likely to spend the money to keep the kids busy with activities at camp. Summer time for the small town family was enjoyable for kids and cheap for the parents.
But for some families living in the city, summertime could create a financial challenge and a real battle in deciding how the kids’ vacation time should be spent and where the parents’ money should go. Ideally, parents would want their kids to spend their vacation doing positive activities that will allow them to grow and learn in a safe environment but often times, this comes with a high price tag. The cost of keeping kids busy in the summertime can be staggering, but it is a worthwhile investment if they enroll in a program, such as camps, that offer social enjoyment, as well as opportunities for mental and physical development.
The summer camp experience is an important and memorable event that could have lasting impact on a child’s mental, physical and social development. So it’s essential to choose a camp that is right for you and your kids. Here are some practical tips on finding a suitable camp:
- research the various types of camps available if your child is new to the summer camp experience. Look at a range of options like the ones offered in community centers that are often more affordable and vary in length. (For example, does the child want to attend a camp that will require him/her to be absent from the home for an extended period of time or does he want to do just daytime activity like a school program)
- Understand what yours and your child’s objectives are with the camp experience (for example: to learn a new skill, to make friends, to have fun)
- Find out what your child would enjoy and excel in
- Understand what benefit the child will get from this experience.
- Assess the investment on this camp program activity versus other types of activities.
Once you have determined that a camp program is the best summertime activity for your child, then parents must examine the programs and get answers to the following:
- What are the camps goals and philosophies?
- How many people will attend the camp?
- What is the ratio of adult supervisors or counsellors to campers
- Are the counselors or program leaders certified to run the program?
- What is the reputation of the camp program?
- What is the cost? Is food, transportation etc included ?
- What is the program length?
- Is the camp co-ed or exclusive to boys or girls?
- What types of activities are offered?
- How is the day structured?
The summer camp program may not affordable for some families, but it is an alternative way of keeping the kids occupied, active, and focused on positive experiences.