Ah summer. The sun. The sand. The surf. The sounds of bored kids all over the house. Well, not this year. This year your kids are going to camp. Whether day camp, sports camp, specialty camp or sleep away, I'm going to tell you how to make both your kids, and you, very happy this summer...by getting them out of your hair - for the entire day, a month or the whole summer! Day Camp Perfect for the younger kids (4-9) and for newbies. Day Camp gives kids the experience of summer camp, without making it feel overwhelming. Typically days last from 8 or 9am to 5 or 6pm, they get a bus there and back, lunch, snack, swim, sports, arts and crafts and more. What's great about this is normally the location is close by so in case of emergency (ie, "I really miss you!"), you can always go pick them up. Also, you can send them for as little as a couple of weeks so it won't interfere with any other summer plans. Additionally, it's the most affordable option and a way to ease them into the experience.
Ask local parents where they plan to send their kids. Check with your school, a local blog or message board or post on Facebook for recommendations.
Sports Camp If your child is really interested in one specific sport, this could be a great option. Most sports camps are shorter sessions and really help kids hone their skills. From baseball, soccer, tennis and golf to lacrosse, football and basketball, if your child likes playing it, there's likely a sports program for them. Usually these are done by your local Athletic League, YMCA, School or other community organization and most let your child go for as little as one week. So, it's also a great add-on to day camp which usually lasts 8 weeks. If your child is already playing one of these sports, ask their program director for a recommendation. Chances are they have a favorite. If not, here's another option.
Specialty Camp Drama, art, music, nature, animals - there's a camp for any extracurricular activity. There may even be chess camps! Again, these can be short-term, such as a week, or the entire summer. A great supplement if your child wants to go to traditional camp, or if you already have a future actor/actress, musician, outdoorsman or painter on your hands, this might be a great way to keep those creative juices flowing over the summer months. Ask your school for recommendations, or your child's music, art or drama teacher. Many of these programs give out flyers at local churches, temples, YMCA's and even on the coffee shop bulletin board. For nature camps, call the zoo for their thoughts (they likely have a program) and for an animal program, try a petting zoo or local farm.
Sleepaway Camp When your kids are comfortable with day camp and they're old enough (usually 8 or 9 depending on your child), sleepaway camp can be a fun option for them, while giving you the summer off! (Can you say poolside cocktails?!) Ok, yes, the thought of your child being away the whole summer can be overwhelming, but again, sleepaway camp also offers the option of 4 weeks or 8 weeks so you don't have to go whole hog. It's also a great maturation and socialization tool for your child. They get to be on their own without being able to run to Mom or Dad for everything. So, if your child is independent or you think they could use an independence boost, this could be a wonderful solution. Many specialty and sports camps also have sleepaway options, so don't feel like you are limited to just a generic camp. They all have visiting weekends, so you can see how your child is doing and of course, you can call, email, etc. to keep in touch. It's not like a drop-off-and-forget-it situation. (Unless that's what you want!)
Do you send your child to camp or are you thinking about it? Share your thoughts here.