Before you begin looking into summer camps, create a list of the criteria you’re looking for.
Here are some things you’ll want to consider.
1 – What is your budget for summer camp?
2 – What is the purpose of sending your child to summer camp?
3 – Do you want an overnight or a day camp?
4 – Are you looking for a short-term or summer-long program?
5 – Do you want a camp that’s very structured or one that provides lots of freedom and choices?
6 – What are your child’s passions or interests?
Whether you’re looking for enrichment for your child, a way to keep your kids occupied and supervised while you work, or need a short reprieve from parenting, there’s sure to be a summer camp that’s the right fit for your child and family. Even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, many summer camps will be up and running either offering alternative programs or by following safety protocols to reduce the risk to campers and staff.
The benefits of summer camp.
Summer camp offers kids plenty of benefits, and many kids are thrilled with the idea of going away to summer camp. Still, for some kids, particularly those who are shy, introverted, or homebodies, the thought of going away for a night, let alone a week or more, can cause considerable anxiety. When kids are adamantly opposed, forcing summer camp on them may not be in their best interest.
But for kids who are eager – or at least willing to give it a shot without much fuss – summer camp offers opportunities kids may not have elsewhere:
- fosters independence
- a place to develop new and lasting friendships
- development of new skills
- discovery of new interests and hobbies
- the opportunity for creative expression
- a break from being plugged-in
- daily exercise
- improves their self-esteem
- teaches kids to work with others
- makes them feel part of a community
- prevents or reduces summer learning loss
Once you’ve narrowed down some of the criteria, you can begin your search. An excellent place to start is right here in Houston Family Magazine. WE run directories in print & online Feb. – June to familiarize parents with choices in our area. We also host a Camp Fair in April so you can come out to actually meet with the camps in person. It’s a great opportunity to get your summer planned in one day!
The American Camp Association (ACA) accredits summer camps. So this is another excellent place to look. The ACA educates camp owners and directors in health and safety for both staff and campers as well as program quality. It then accredits camps that meet the ACA’s standards.
Next steps to finding the perfect summer camp.
Once you’ve selected a few summer camps that meet your primary criteria, and that fit your child’s interests, share the choices with your child to see what excites him or her. Be sure to let your child know upfront that you still need to thoroughly investigate the camp(s) before making a final decision. But do keep your child’s choices in mind to ensure your child gets the most out of summer camp.
Once you and your child have narrowed the list down to a manageable selection, you’ll want to investigate the camps further. There are several things you’ll want to consider.
Is this camp a safe option for my child and family during the pandemic?
Many summer camps use teens to staff the camps. Teens make excellent mentors and can bring liveliness to summer camp programs. However, the programs themselves should be developed by professionals and have professional oversight to ensure kids are getting the most from their camp experience.
How does the camp ensure your child’s safety?
Find out what kind of safety training the camp provides its staffers. Also, is there staff on hand at all times that knows CPR? What are the camp’s procedures in the event your child becomes ill, has an accident, or an emergency?
What is the daily schedule for campers?
Ask for a daily itinerary, so you know your child will be getting everything you and your child anticipate from the program.
What are the rules?
Each camp has its own set of rules. So, find out whether your child is allowed to call you. If it’s a summer-long residential camp, can parents come and visit? Can kids bring along a cell phone or electronics? Also, how much money can they bring, and how is it managed?
Don’t sweat it
Keep in mind, although there are many great camps, no camp is likely to offer everything precisely the way you want it. Just choose the one that best fits your child and satisfies your most important criteria. Remember, your child will have many summers to come and plenty more opportunities to work in more exciting camp experiences.
Houston Family Magazine Camp Directory can be found within this issue and online @HoustonFamilyMagazine.com/camp