This Together We Thrive article is sourced from the Countryside YMCA. Original publishing can be found here.
Summer is the ideal time for kids to get up, get out and explore. But for some kids, summer means no access to recreational and educational activities to help them learn, grow and thrive during out-of-school time. Attending YMCA summer camp is a wonderful opportunity for kids to keep their minds and bodies active. The difficulty comes in choosing the right camp for your child. Here are some tips to help you schedule camps that will keep your child active, socializing and learning all summer long.
1. Decide on your summer camp budget and scheduling needs.
Before you begin your summer camp search, you need to have an idea of what you’re willing to spend and you’ll also need to know the number of summer camp weeks you’ll need for your child. For some families summer camp replaces daily childcare services and for others camp fills an occasional week or two. Knowing how much camp time you need to schedule as well as how much you can afford will help you narrow down your summer camp search. Some camps also offer financial assistance or summer camp scholarships so be sure to look for those, too, if needed.
2. Figure out what you need summer camp to provide.
Some parents need a summer-long, weekly camp experience that will provide child care while they're at work. Kids in camp all summer long will need a variety of activities to keep them interested and having fun week after week. Other parents want to use summer camp as a way to grow a selected skill set or hobby for their child such as soccer, art, or STEM skills. Narrow your search down by deciding on your main goals for a summer camp experience.
3. Get to know your child’s interests and make sure the camp includes that.
Trying something new and different is often scary for a child and summer camp can overwhelm some kids. Make going to camp easier by finding a summer camp that has a minimum of one activity that your child is interested in. Whether it’s making sure there is swim time every day, or signing them up for art camp they love, it can be easier for a child when they know the day will include an activity they love to do.
4. Only choose a camp duration you are comfortable with.
There are an assortment of summer camp experiences from day camp and overnight trips to week-long resident camps and even wilderness expeditions. It’s important to be realistic about what both you and your child are ready for. Younger children may enjoy the half-day or day camp experience while older youth may be have more independence which makes resident camp or overnight camp fun for them.
5. Visit the camp before signing up.
If you're interested in signing up for summer camp at a specific organization, go say hi as soon as possible! Checking out a summer camp location prior to registration means you have firsthand knowledge of the location and setting, and you can determine whether or not it will be the right place for your child. Places like the YMCA provide programs all year long that are then highlighted at camp. Getting involved before summer camp allows you and your child to become familiar with the facility and the staff, potentially making summer camp even more fun.
For more information about summer camps at Countryside YMCA, visit the website.