Summer Camp: How to Choose?

Summer Camp: How to Choose?

By Alison Cupp-Relyea 


It is that time of year – Summer Camp Signups!

Many parents stress over this decision, even for their three- and four-year-olds, but it doesn’t have to be that difficult. Summer camp is an opportunity for your child to learn and grow, exploring new interests and deepening existing ones. Have fun with it, and your child will, too. Here are some Petite Vigogne Dos and Don’ts of summer camp:

DO research camps and ask friends for suggestions. Looking online at reviews and talking to friends in the community can give you some great insights into camps that might not have been on your radar. It can also help you envision your child’s day and get a sense for whether or not the camp is a good fit. Call the camps, also, and ask specific questions. Most directors are very helpful in the selection process.

DO NOT pick a camp simply because your friend signed up her child. Your best friend’s child might be ready to ride a bus at five years old to go to the big, fancy camp with color competitions, electives and a meal plan, but your child might be happier playing in the woods at your local nature center or learning new games and taking swimming lessons at the YMCA.

DO explore the options. Some children thrive on the structure of a longer day or consistency week to week, while others love the variety that summer offers with some weeks in camp and other weeks doing activities at local libraries, parks and museums. Mix it up.

DO NOT push your child. Summer is a time to escape from the rushing, routine and structure of the school year. Even if your child seems to be a gifted artist, math wizard or loves playing soccer, signing up for one camp that focuses on one skill is usually a bad idea, even for older children. It is not what your preschooler wants to do with their summer.

DO use camp as a time to learn. In summer, there are learning opportunities that do not exist during the rest of the year. Farms, forests, gardens, rivers, lakes and oceans are thriving learning environments. Take advantage of hands-on, experiential learning opportunities offered for little ones while school is out.

DO NOT worry if your child knows no one going to the same camp. If your child is particularly nervous in new situations, having a friend or familiar face can be very helpful, but for many children, camp is a chance to make new friends. Touch base with the counselors ahead of time, but don’t be surprised to see your child making play dates at pick up on the first day.


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