With technology so readily available (not to mention socially acceptable), it can be challenging for parents to break their children’s tech-habits and tear them away from the tv/computer/iPad screen when they have long stretches of unscheduled time on their hands…like two months of summer vacation for example.
Summer camps are an ideal option for many parents. By engaging children in a summer camp atmosphere, studies have found enormous benefits not only socially but physically as well. Kids will learn a variety of new skills, increase their social interaction, and get plenty of exercise while having fun and learning all day long!
And you don’t usually have to look far to find a camp that is the right fit for you and your family – many local businesses these days offer day camps that specialize in all sorts of areas, from art and music to sports and recreation to education and technology.
Here are a few tips designed to you choose the right camp for your son or daughter this summer:
Duration: Many camps offer both full-day and half-day options. Half-day camps can be a great option for very young children or for a child’s first camp experience. They can also work well for children who don’t like to be away from home.
Location: Make getting to and from camp as easy as possible for you and your child. Consider a camp that isn’t too far away from your home or work, for ease of drop-off and pick up. If you commute to work, look for a camp location that is on (or at least near) your regular route to keep from over-complicating you and your family’s regular routine. Many camps also offer early drop-offs and late pick-up options to allow parents a bit of flexibility – fair warning though, check with the camp administrators first as some camps charge extra for this convenience.
Cost: While researching the cost of the camp program, be sure to figure out the total cost. Are there additional charges for some of the activities or field trips? Are you expected to provide additional equipment? Is lunch included, is that an extra cost or do you have to provide it yourself? What about snacks? What is the refund policy if your child gets sick? Is your camp registration fee eligible for a Federal Children’s Fitness or Arts tax credit?
Camp type: Ideally you’ll want to make sure that the camp you ultimately choose will have activities your little one will enjoy. After all, you want them to want to go to camp rather than having to fight to get them out of bed and out the door every morning, right?
Ask yourself some of these questions when trying to narrow down the type of camp your child will attend:
-Are you simply looking for childcare during the summer months, or are you hoping to help your child learn or refine a particular skill?
-Does your child want to hang out with friends or try something totally new?
-Do you want him/her to gain leadership skills or learn how to be a better team player?
-Does your child need to learn how to manage responsibilities or is he/she learning to be more independent?
Decision Time: Once you’ve narrowed down the actual location of the camp, have decided on a full vs. half-day option, and have thought about the type of camp that will be best for your child, ask for his/her help in making the final choice. Involving children in the selection process is a great way to get them excited and looking forward to their summer camp adventure. To help simplify the decision-making process, narrow it down to two or three camp options and then let them pick which one they like best.
No matter what type of camp you choose, your child will most likely benefit greatly. They should walk away from the experience having learned something new, increased their self-confidence, made a few new friends, gotten plenty of exercise, improved their social skills and most importantly, had a wonderful time!
Dalplex, Dalhousie University’s main fitness and recreation facility, has been proudly serving the community for over 30 years, offering a wide variety of fitness, wellness and recreation programs and classes for adults, children, youth and seniors. Visit their website or follow them on facebook.