Summer is coming up quickly and that means it’s time for summer camp! I feel like we blinked and the school year flew by. My first-born was in kindergarten this year so it was my first experience with the public school system and our first time having a true summer vacation. Since he was just a tiny twelve-week-old, he has attended the same daycare preschool year round. That makes this year the first year I’ve had to look into summer camps. Here is what I’ve learned:
You don’t have to put your kid in a summer camp
My husband and I both work fairly flexibly from home. The greatest gift 2020 gave us was, in my opinion, the virtual workforce. I love being able to spend mornings relaxing with my family rather than rushing to an office, and I really like being able to attend all the mid-morning school productions. I would assume many parents have found themselves in a similar situation. If that’s the case and you already stay at home year round, you don’t have to put your kid in a summer camp program. You can simply keep them home and enjoy their company. Yes, even the older ones! But there are, of course, benefits to having your older children attend summer camps.
The benefits of summer camp
Having your older child in a summer camp can ensure they stay on a schedule. Those early mornings and tightly scheduled days might be harder to recreate if your school-aged-child spends all summer staying up late and sleeping in.
Another benefit of summer camp is the socialization your child can have! A traditional school provides a lot of social time for kids, even in a structured classroom setting. My six year old has made so many friends in his first year at school and surprisingly, I know all their names! If he spend the summer at home, he might feel awkward getting back to that scene come next school year.
Of course, having my older child in summer camp also gives me more time to focus on work and projects during the summer. Even parents who are working from home need time to focus and not be concerned about when the next snack time is!
Some drawbacks to summer camp
If you are still wrestling with the idea of summer camp, there are a few cons to consider. The biggest, perhaps, being the cost. Some summer camp programs can be expensive, especially compared to the cost of the public school system. Always look for one that fits your budget.
Another drawback might be the rigorous schedule your family now has to keep all year. The routine might feel nice, but it is OK if you decide your family could use a break. Your older child might need the chance to relax and the change of pace.
If your kid is in summer camp, especially if you stay home, you may feel like you are missing time with your older child. Getting to spending extra time together over the summer can be nice for you and your child. It’s one of the pros of having older children – FINALLY you get to spend summers doing summer things!
Just consider all options and do what feels right for your family.
Now that you’ve decided if you want your child in a summer camp, here are some ways to find the perfect one in your area.
How to find available summer camp
Check with your local community center, parks, or recreation center. Any park that you and your kids frequent might have a board with camp info posted. The REC center that you child played sports through during the school year might have summer programs. Always ask around or do a quick google search for your area.
Search online for summer camps that specialize in activities your child is interested in. Especially if you child has hobbies, finding them a camp that can help then learn more and refine their interests can make for a fun summer. You can find anything from sports camps, to STEM programs.
Ask for recommendations from people who have older children. Your neighbors with children might have already found the best summer camp. When you are at the park and strike up a conversation with a mom, ask where her kids spend the summer. Most of your kid’s classmates are probably attending summer camp as well. Use your community to resource the info.
Look into camps offered by local colleges or universities. This might be the best place to find those STEM programs. Some colleges offer summer camps that teach wood working, engineering, art, and even outdoor exploration! These types of summer camps go well beyond paying dodge ball and singing campy songs.
If your child attended daycare before they were school aged, ask if they offer a summer program for older kids. This is how we found our kindergartner a Harry Potter themed camp to attend this summer. I’m not sure which of us is more excited about this. We opted to only send him on field trip days and water days so he can get a feel for the more laid back pace of summer vacation.
No matter where you choose for your older child to spend their summer, at home or at camp, make sure it’s something that works for your family and your child will have a blast!
Have a great summer!