Fostering Happy Campers
All too soon we’ll be hearing those words: School’s out for the summer! This may be music to the ears of our children, but to us, it signals the beginning of three months of hearing: “Mom, I’m bored. There’s nothing to do.”
Just because the traditional school year has come to a close (and September seems like years away), the learning experiences for children don’t have to go on hold. Perhaps they must move outdoors.
Don’t despair. Whether you’re a mom who works outside of the home or a mom who’s working just as hard at home, there’s hope! It comes in the form of two small words: day camp. And there are lots to choose from. Parents have been treating their children to a camp-like experience in one form or another for decades, only now there are a lot more choices.
The daily schedules of each weeklong day camp vary. Some run from early morning until late afternoon (with extended daycare, if desired). Others offer a combination of half-day or full-day sessions. You can send your child for the entire summer or select a few days or weeks here and there.
All camping experiences give kids a chance to meet and make new friends. Residential camps provide the more traditional, away-from-home summer camp experience. If you, or your child, are not yet up to that, day camp is a great alternative.
As the name implies, day camps can offer everything but an overnight sleep-away experience. They will entertain, challenge, and excite your child but do it before the sun sets.
A main emphasis of specialty day camps is to give children an in-depth introduction to something new that interests them. Camps specialize in everything from drama to sea life to soccer. Many camps give children an opportunity to hone an existing skill or talent.
There are dozens to choose from, with specialized themes, such as theater, dance, computers, art, science, and sports. You could also send your child to a summer camp geared more toward academics. Summer could be a great time to help your child catch up or leap ahead before the next school year begins. Some camps offer a blending of academics and special activities.
“I really like the way my sons were able to develop their soccer skills,” says Donna, mother of 8-year-old Paul and 10-year-old Derek.
“We’ve sent the boys to both traditional day camps and sports camps. It’s a great way to break up a long summer and have them experience new things,” she says. “This summer we may even add basketball camp to the other activities we have planned for the boys.”
Children could be filling their summer days doing things like playing soccer or learning to paint. This summer could be the first time your child takes a bow and arrow in hand or bowls a strike. And what better time to introduce him or her to the world of gymnastics? Your child might be a natural on the uneven bars or the balance beam.
Most day camps cater to elementary school-aged children; however, there are some who also provide programs for preschool ages as well as middle school and high school students. With so many topics to choose from, you and your child may get overwhelmed in making a decision. Many camps have brochures that are free for the asking. These may help you narrow the field to maybe one or two choices. (Remember, there’s next summer too!)
After you’ve made the decision about which summer camp or camps to have your child attend, sit back and relax. Once again, June will quickly turn into September. You can take some comfort in the fact that you’re providing your child with a challenging summer.
And you won’t be listening to any complaints about being bored. But you’re still likely to hear: “Hey Mom, what’s for dinner?!”BW
Native Pennsylvanian freelance writer Claire Yezbak Fadden is the mother of a former camp counselor. Follow her on Twitter @claireflaire.