Encouraging Students (and Parents) to Choose a Camp-A Summer Educational and Social Experience

Curriculum Review, May 2008 | Go to article overview

Encouraging Students (and Parents) to Choose a Camp-A Summer Educational and Social Experience


The school year is coming to a close. Chances are students are already buzzing about what they plan to do this summer. And, many students are likely to choose (along with the help of their parents) summer camp. There may be a few students and families, however, that are "on the fence" about what summer camp to choose.

The following article from the American Camp Association may prove useful as you share the reasons, purpose and rationale behind the summer camp experience.

Ready, Set, Camp!

You know parents and students who are considering summer camp, but aren't sure how to choose. There's a camp that is ideally suited for every child, providing a summer of growth and fun whether your child attends a day or overnight camp, a specialized or traditional camp. With a little help from the camp professionals at the American Camp Association, here's some sound advice to help parents sort through the choices and benefits that camp delivers. As spring approaches, parents and children can look forward to planning for the future--a future that includes the opportunities for exploration and discovery that arrives with summer camp.

How to Decide When Your Child is Ready for Camp

Children are ready for new experiences at different stages. Parents know their children best and these questions can help gauge whether this is the summer your child will start camp.

* What is your child's age? Children under age seven may not adjust easily to being away from home. Consider the day camp experience to prepare them for future overnight camp.

* How did your child become interested in camp? Does your child talk about camp on a sustained basis? How much persuasion is necessary from you?

* Has your child had positive overnight experiences away from home? Visiting relatives or friends? Were these separations easy or difficult?

* What does your child expect to do at camp? Learning about the camp experience ahead of time allows you to create positive expectations.

* Are you able to share consistent and positive messages about camp? Your confidence in a positive experience will be contagious.

A Camp for Every Child-The Perfect Fit

Camp can last for just a few days or stretch to all summer long. It's well worth the trouble to investigate the variety of choices offered by camps before packing backpacks and duffle bags. These questions will help parents consider the options.

Near or Far?

Where do you want your child to go to camp? Locally or far away? While each camp experience has something unique to offer your child, this is an opportunity for families to assess what they value for their campers.

Benefits of Camp Nearby

* Easier to evaluate and visit

* Friends and family are likely familiar with camp

* Minimal travel costs

* Likely contact with classmates or children from same region

Benefits of Camp Far Away

* More choices

* Different experiences, different geography, e.g., mountains or oceans--even different languages

* Promotes independence, particularly for early and late adolescent campers

* Diversity of campers * Chance for family to visit and vacation at close of camp

Session Length Offers Another Choice

Camps offer widely varying options to help parents and children reach their goals for summer fun and exploration. Talking with your child about the goals you both share helps determine which choice is right for you.

Benefits of Short Sessions (one-three weeks)

* First-time or younger campers have a chance to learn new skills

* Bonds develop with other campers and staff

* Great exposure to camp experience with less expense

* Minimizes homesickness

Benefits of Longer Sessions (four-twelve weeks)

* Strong sense of belonging to camp community

* Chance to learn new skills

* Development of specialized skills

* Multiple opportunities for learning and enrichment

* Lifelong friendships

* Opportunities to contribute to camp culture

Boys Only, Girls Only, or Co-ed?

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