Day camp is a summer tradition looked forward to by kids and parents alike. The kids get a chance to make new friends and engage in interesting activities, while parents get a few hours to themselves each day. In the past, day camp was much like summer camp—outdoor arts and crafts with no overnight stay. The modern day camp is completely different and appeals to a wide range of interests, from sports to robot building. The following tips can help you choose the right camp for your child.
Tip #1: Skip "school" camps
A school-style camp may seem appealing at first to the over-achieving parent. The idea of your child mastering fifth grade math during the summer after fourth grade, or learning to read before preschool, can tempt you into sending your child to a camp that resembles a classroom. This doesn't mean camp can't be educational. Instead, opt for the educational camps that would appeal to your child—a book camp, with activities based around favorite children's literature, for example, can inspire a deeper love of reading than a simple crash course on the mechanics.
Tip #2: Make sure there are a range of activities
The best camps, even those highly focused on a single subject, should provide a wide range of activities. Activities should range from crafts to physical activities that get your child to move. Look for a wider range of activities for younger children, who need more to help keep their interest strong. Older kids, on the other hand, may get more enjoyment from a more focused camp if they have a very strong interest in the topic. Otherwise, camps offering a range of activities are still best.
Tip #3: Check the facilities
Safety is of paramount concern, so opt for a camp with dedicated facilities. Those that take place in public spheres, such as a local park, are not necessarily as safe since it is easier for young kids to wander off. Those offered in a closed of section of a park, at a private facility, or in a more secure public place, such as a museum, are usually safer. Inspect the equipment to make sure everything looks in good repair. Also, check to see what safety rules will be enforced, especially in the event of any field trips.
Tip #4: Ask about the basic schedule
Once again, summer camp isn't school, although the hours are often roughly the same. Each summer camp should offer a basic schedule to families considering the camp. You want to look for the aforementioned range of activities. You also want to make sure there is plenty of time scheduled for each activity, along with designated downtime for free play, rest, or general exploration of the topic that was introduced in the previous activity. Camps aimed at younger kids should provide more downtime, while those for older kids may have less.
Contact a summer day camp near you for more information.