Coleen Bennett, a mom from California wrote this guest post on how to plan for summer camps. Since it’s that time of year, we felt as though our readers might appreciate some of her suggestions.
What are your kids doing this summer? A lot of kids go to the same childcare programs in the summer that they attend during the school year. Many year-round programs add activities and field trips to keep kids busy all day. There are a lot of good things about this plan, but let me suggest something different.
During the summer, opportunities for kids to learn and have fun explode! Many city recreation departments and businesses that offer some kind of children’s activity year round offer enhanced full-day programs during the summer. Kids can spend a week riding horses, doing gross science experiments or expressing their creativity. Summer camps available in the Denver area are just about as varied as the kids who attend them.
Since most camps enroll kids for one week at a time, I recommend signing for several different camps over the course of the summer. Your child will never get bored and they’ll have plenty to write about for the inevitable What I Did Over Summer Vacation essay in September.
This plan isn’t for everyone. Kids who are young, shy or just don’t like too much change might be happier picking one summer program and sticking with it. Those who are up for a summer full of adventure, however, can have the time of their lives.
How To Do It:
First you need to brainstorm possibilities. Take a look below for types of day camps or go to this link for ideas. Decide if there’s anything you, as a parent, want your child to do. Maybe they could use some help with math or you want to make sure they brush up on their swimming skills. It’ll be a lot easier to get your kids to attend the camp you want them to participate in if they can pick camps for different weeks. Decide how far you’re willing to drive and how much you’re willing to pay. Then make up a list of summer camps and available weeks.
Now get your kids involved. Explain that they get to sign up for one camp each week and show them the choices. Let them pick some camps that interest them. If you have more than one child, they may need to decide together to limit your driving.
Put it all on a calendar and make your reservations. Some camps are only available for one or two weeks each summer, so start with those. Some camps have different themes each week. For example, a science camp might offer explosive chemistry experiments one week and study bugs another week. Camps that go on field trips may publish their schedule ahead of time, allowing you to select the week you want. What kinds of summer day camps are available? All kinds. Here are some ideas to get things rolling.
Any sport that your child participates in during the school year or wants to try certainly is available as a summer camp. Some organizations offer multi-sport camps where kids can try out a variety of sports. If your child loves a particular sport, this is a great chance to get extra practice and coaching.
The great outdoors is a wonderful place to play. There are camps for kids who like to hike, ride horses, sail or learn about the natural environment. The Denver Zoo even offers a summer camp program for animal lovers! Boy scout, girl scouts and other clubs offer summer camps that might include things like archery, swimming and nature walks.
Vacation Bible Schools and Faith Based Camps:
If your place of worship doesn’t offer a summer camp program, don’t worry. You’re sure to find a camp that’s perfect for your child. Many of these take place only one week out of the summer, so be sure to pencil this into your calendar early.
Does your child love to draw, work with clay or make movies? Have they always wanted to dance or act on stage? What about being in a rock band, making gourmet food, or designing fashionable clothes? The possibilities are endless.
Science catches the interest of lots of kids. Of course it’s such a wide field that you’ll need to zero in on the week about space, physics or robotics. Some camps even focus on computer programming! Summer is a great time to learn a foreign language or brush up on reading or math. Think about what you wish your child’s school spent more time on. Now your child has the time for it!
Field Trip Camps:
Camps that take kids on different field trips every week are often the most popular. You’ll find them at local schools, city recreation departments and the local YMCA. Who doesn’t want to spend time with their friends going to amusement parks, the movies and video arcades?
It’s probably a good idea to leave one or two weeks open near the end of the summer so kids can go for a second week of a camp they really enjoyed. Whatever you and your child choose, they’re sure to have a summer they’ll never forget.
About the Author:
Coleen Bennett is the mother of three teenagers in Southern California. After years of trying to find activities for her own kids, she put together an online directory to help other local parents.