How To Choose The Right Summer Camp for Your Child
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How To Choose The Right Summer Camp For Your Child
Guest Contributor: Brad Krause
As summer rolls on, parents tend to worry about what their child will do when they’re not in school. Depending on their age, kids can get into mischief when they have too much free time, yet many parents don’t want to schedule every minute of summer vacation. For a bit of in-between, summer camp is a way to allow kids to have fun, get some exercise, learn a few things, and be around other kids their age. It sure beats having them sit at home playing on a tablet for three months, and it can give many kids a sense of responsibility and boost their self-esteem at the same time.
It’s important to choose the right camp for your child, however. Sit down and talk about what he or she would like to do during vacation, what they might be interested in learning, and how long they would be comfortable with being away from home. Your child may be anxious about going to camp if they’ve never been away from home overnight. Encourage them to talk with you about their concerns. Remind them that nobody does everything perfectly, but we can all learn and become better when we make mistakes. In fact, if we credit our successes instead of punishing ourselves for our failures, and simply try again instead, we will build our self-confidence and resilience.
Going into a new situation, such as an overnight camp, doesn’t require that they know everything and do everything perfectly. If your child is agreeable, check out some local camps online and set up interviews. It’s important that you tour the facility and speak with the people in charge before making any big decisions.
Here are a few of the best ways to choose the right camp for your child, care of the Children’s Museum of Brownsville.
You’ll want to make some decisions about what kind of camp to choose as well as how long your child will stay. Some camps are overnight and last for several weeks, while others are just day camps that would require you or someone in the family to drive your child back and forth each day. Depending on where you live, there may be camps focused on scouting, sports, art, STEM, pop culture, nature, music, fitness, writing, or there may be health facilities where young people can go to learn how to make healthy choices when it comes to food and exercise. Talk about the options that are age appropriate with your child.
Take a Tour
Set up a visit to the camp of your choice and bring your child along. Interview the staff and ask questions about their daily schedule, as well as how they handle particular issues such as homesickness or injury. The right questions can help you suss out whether there are warning signs that the camp is not for your child. Some good ones to ask include:
- Are cell phones allowed?
- What type of food is served?
- What happens in the case of an emergency, such as an injury?
- Can I visit?
- How many campers attend?
- What is the camper/counselor ratio?
- How old are the counselors?
- How is conflict handled?
- Will my child need money?
- Can the child call home if they need to?
While on the tour, look at the upkeep of the facilities as well as what is available for your child to use. Is there a pool? Does it have a lifeguard? If the camp is in session, do the children seem happy and well supervised? If it’s a day camp, do the children seem involved in an activity, or do they look bored?
Talk to Your Child
Depending on the age of your child, there could be a chance for risky behavior at camp, especially if he or she is away from home for days or weeks at a time. Talk to him or her about your expectations and how important it is to make good choices. It may seem overwhelming at first, but learning to give a little freedom and trusting your child to do the right thing is a wonderful parenting step.
Remember, it can be hard to let your child spend time away from home for the first time. Make plans to practice good self-care during this time–get a relaxing massage, or spend time with friends–so that you won’t be stressed or worried.
The Children’s Museum of Brownville has plenty of options to help keep your kids entertained over the summer. Whether you sign them up for week-long camps, schedule a party in our facilities, or visit our educational exhibits, your child will love what they learn!