Your kids can spend their summer on stage, singing like Broadway stars. They can canoe in the morning and code in the afternoon. They can try new sports, learn a language, make a movie or stop the summer academic slide.
With so many choices, how do you start looking for summer camp? Here are some tips to help you find the best fit for your child.
Think about the kind of summer you want for your child.
Are you looking for outdoor activities and field trips or do you have academic goals in mind? Do you want a specialty camp where your child can immerse himself in his favorite topic or a general camp with a little bit of everything? Overnight or day? Do you want a camp that cultivates your child’s talent in sports or performing arts? Identify your priorities to narrow down a list of camps to consider. Some camps offer open houses or personal tours where you can meet directors, see the facility and ask questions.
Ask about the counselors.
They are the teachers and supervisors caring for the campers, so you’ll want to know your kids are in good hands. Ask what kind of experience or training they have to prepare. Many CAMP IDS counselors attended the camp themselves when they were younger, and newer staff are grouped with seasoned teachers. Certain camps, such as engineering, are designed and taught by professionals in those fields. Coaches, athletes and trainers offer sport-specific skill development in their areas of expertise.
Many camps offer half-day sessions, which is great for mixing and matching. Pair the reading review camp you want for your child with a recreational program you know he or she will love. Balance a favorite camp from last year with one that challenges kids to go outside their comfort zone. Let them work up a sweat in the mornings on the golf course or tennis court and spend their afternoons cooling off as they build worlds in Minecraft or design keychains on a 3D printer.
On the other hand, you might want a program that goes more in-depth. CAMP IDS has a popular full-day musical theatre camp that lasts for two weeks. Staging, choreography, costumes and set all come together during that time, culminating in amazing performances.
Remember the little campers.
Although many camps start with kindergarten and older students, camp can be a wonderful experience for 3- and 4-year-olds. Camps spark curiosity and introduce academic concepts, providing plenty of time to play and explore. The PreK3 and PreK4 camps at CAMP IDS include sessions that emphasize reading and math basics. Children sing songs connecting letters and sounds, make crafts and do activities that help them practice counting and number recognition. Attending camp at this age can also help ease the transition in the fall for students entering school for the first time.
Watch your hours.
If camp also serves as your child care during the summer, be sure to check the camp hours. Many camps mirror the school day, and you’ll need to sign up for extended care (if offered) or make other plans for after 3 p.m. Some camps offer morning care before the first camp starts. Ask about drop-off procedures so you know how early you can arrive, where kids go before camp begins and if there are additional charges.
You might need to create a spreadsheet to figure out how to fit in all the fun, but there’s something for everyone at summer camp. A little planning now is sure to pay off in June and July when your child is busy and engaged making lots of summer memories.
This article was originally published in the April 2017 edition of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine. It is sponsored by Corbett Preparatory School of IDS