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February 1, 2019
Local mom and camp expert Courtney Cairns-Pastor of Corbett Prep shares 5 tips for parents on how to handle common summer camp challenges.
Your child loves Minecraft, so you sign her up for Minecraft summer camp. What could be simpler?
If that’s the only factor you need to consider when choosing a summer camp, great! But for many parents, planning for camp involves more than matching a child’s interest with an available session.
It takes time to research and weigh options, trying to find the balance between what works for the family and what appeals to the student.
Here are five scenarios parents encounter when signing up for summer camp and suggestions for how to handle them.
Your child wants to play video games all summer. You’re a fan of fresh air. Meet in the middle with half-day camps that allow you to schedule computer programming in the morning and canoeing in the afternoon. Or combine half-day sports and academic camps for a day that exercises bodies and minds.
Summer camp is a lifesaver for parents who need child care, but many of us work before 9 a.m. and after 3 p.m. Research your prospective camps’ hours before you sign up. CAMP IDS offers free morning care before the 8:30 a.m. sessions and extended care, for a small cost, after 3 p.m. Bus transportation and the chance to buy lunches or snacks at camp can also make hectic mornings smoother.
Some camps fill up almost as soon as registration opens. Waitlists can work to your benefit – it’s always possible the camp directors will schedule another session or add a counselor and accept more kids. But if you’re a planner, it’s good to have an alternative on deck. You can look for something similar – students who enjoy Lego robotics may like the craftsmanship and technological skills involved in Claymation movie making or building and launching model rockets. You can also go in a completely different direction and introduce your child to a new hobby, such as baking, golf or fishing (hint: find a friend to do the new activity with your child to sweeten the deal).
Save yourself the drive to multiple camps in the morning by choosing one that serves a wide range of ages. Many only cater to older kids, limiting options for preschoolers. But 3- and 4-year-olds also gain social and academic benefits from attending, and the youngest campers at CAMP IDS love the activities, crafts and songs skilled teachers plan for them. Meanwhile, older students have a range of options from musical theatre to engineering to hold their interest.
Counteract cries of boredom with an assortment of camp choices. You can pick different themed camps every week or even two camps a day where half-day camps are available. And if your child still needs more variety, try a field trip camp that takes them to a new place or on a new adventure each day.
The key for parents is to look at camps as a whole instead of focusing only on individual sessions. With a little research ahead of time, you can find a camp that offers students activities they enjoy and makes summer less stressful for parents.
By Courtney Cairns Pastor | Originally published in the March 2018 edition of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.