Time passes so fast, the kids will be out of school before you know it.
is the time of year when parents should start thinking about summer
camp. Most camps easily fit into a family's busy schedule and budget.
course, what kids want to do is have fun. But there are still many
questions that need to be answered in order to make a good decision
regarding the right camp.
First, it is important to know your child's physical, mental, and emotional needs, but that's only the beginning.
From there, begin by talking to the children. If they have been to camp before, they may already have a favorite.
not, it's always best to focus on the child's interests, such as
sports, cheerleading, horseback riding, and so on. If children help in
the decision-making process, they will feel better about spending their
days or nights away from home.
There are many camps from which to choose. They come in a wide variety of styles and formats.
Below are some examples:
camps typically deal with a specific sport, i.e., baseball, basketball,
football or soccer. Most sports camps have different levels.
high schools, professional athletes, summer AAU teams, churches,
organizations and local YMCAs often offer these types of camps.
Many day camps have a daycare atmosphere. Across the country, attendance at local day camps has grown by leaps and bounds.
Many offer a variety of programs for children ages 5 to 15. Each year, programs usually take on a different theme.
Activities are divided into age groups and are designed to increase each child's confidence and self-esteem.
every daycare facility offers a day camp, as do public recreation
programs. Some offer field trips, while others show movies.
programs afford children the opportunity to have lots of fun. Parents
need to visit different day camps before mentioning them to their
Always ask about staffing. It can be a problem.
private schools offer a limited summer program. The summer staff may
not always be certified teachers. Again, itís best to make phone calls
and visit these facilities.
Overnight or resident camps; Campers stay for extended periods of time, from several days to several weeks.
children usually sleep in cabins, dorms, tents, tepees or other forms
of shelter and participate in a variety of well-organized activities.
If a child has never been away from home, it's always best to conduct a trial run.
overnight at Mimi and Papaís house or with a friend is a good way to
begin. They can also stay at a supervised church lock-in.
an overnight or resident camp situation that is coed, it is important
to have counselors of both genders on the premises, at all times. Always
ask for a camp check list.
Colleges, private schools or independent-tutoring facilities sometimes offer educational camps.
usually focus on academic subjects, such as computers, math, science or
English. There are also music camps. The staff is usually made up of
camps have always been a personal favorite of mine. I never worried a
moment when my children attended a camp at our church.
camps usually have a Christian theme and devote most of their
activities toward the development of the child's spiritual well being.
Church camps are very structured and typically target young people
between the ages of 4 and 8.
Special needs camps
camps are usually offered regionally and deal with children with
disabilities. Special-needs camps have well-trained staff members at all
times. The best source for recommendations for a special-needs camp is
the child's pediatrician.
Professionals and psychologists highly recommend gathering as much information as possible when making camp decisions.
There are a few GREAT, local websites regarding camp programs. A few of my favorites are www.kingwoodcamps.com, www.thewoodlandscamps.com and www.houstoncamps.com.
American Camping Association also publishes the Guide to Accredited
Camps which can be purchased online by clicking on the bookstore at www.ACACamps.org.
The American Camping Association can be reached by calling 1-800-428-2267.
Parents should be educated about the people who will be responsible for their children at a camp.
with camp directors, doctors and other parents. In addition, parents
should read all materials available about the camps under consideration.
Compile a list of questions concerning the camp and make an appointment with the camp director.
If the camp is long-distance, a conference call can be scheduled.
a selection has been made, parents should make every effort to schedule
an appointment to visit with the specific camp counselor who will be in
charge of their child.
to consider include location, size, gender, age, geographical
representation (children from local area), duration, financial structure
of the camp, staff, goals and values, programs, facilities,
health/safety issues and food service.
Most importantly, parents should use their intuition.
Choosing the right summer camp for your child is a labor of love.
The key to success is to start early.
Once a decision is made, make reservations immediately. Space is usually limited and camps fill up fast.
Happy camp hunting, and until next month happy parenting!