Summer camp planning always monopolizes my spring. So I thought it would be fun to have a Summer Camp Week and share everything I’ve learned from my daughters’ experiences (and from the experts) to help you find the perfect fit for your own kids!
Here’s my take on the three top questions I hear from parents when they are considering summer camp options for their tweens and teens.
1. What kind of camp is best?
Remember when we were kids and camps meant rowing a canoe around a lake and toasting smores? Now, the camp options for teens are truly overwhelming. Your child can design an app, be the lead singer in a rock band or direct their own movie among experts and peers. The best camp for your child is one that fits their interests and your budget. Sometimes teens are a bit fried from a tough year (AP classes, sports, extras, ugh!!) and really need camp as an opportunity to relax or try new things that they don’t normally do.
There are many resources on the web, but my favorite is CampResource.com because you can really learn about all your options. Pick a few that matches what your child wants and the budget you want to spend. Share only the camps that fit both requirements.
2. Why should we consider a sleep away camp?
There is nothing scarier for most parents then dropping their kids off at sleep away camp for the first time. But, for many kids sleep away camp becomes one of their most treasured memories of their teen years and where they make friends for life.
And, sleep away camps force kids to assume a good deal of responsibility. No one will be nagging them to brush their teeth or head to bed, and it probably won’t take too long for them to figure out that those are good things to do!
They’ll probably learn to do their own laundry, eat food that they wouldn’t normally try and deal with counselors and roommates with their associated personalities and quirks. All these interpersonal and responsibility-oriented skills are great practice for their eventual move out – and might even make them appreciate mom a little more!
3. Should he go with friends?
This is one of the biggest questions most parents have. I can see both sides, and I would recommend talking to your child about it. Having a friend there alleviates the loneliness factor, and creates a shared experience, but there are also downsides to camping with your “bestie”. Shy kids may find it hard to make new friends when their BFF is always by their side. And one of the great things about new experiences and new friends is the opportunity for kids to see themselves in a new way. Maybe your bookish daughter will come home with a badminton trophy that she wouldn’t have even tried if a friend from home was there who knows she’s “not into sports”.
As that old camp song says, “Make new friends, but keep the old.” Camp can be a perfect time to really focus on the “making new friends” part. And think how fun it will be to reconvene and share camp adventures when they get home.
Some of my best summer memories are from my own times at camp, and now is the perfect time to talk to your teen about what they hope their summer camp memories look like. Don’t let them miss out on the summer camp experience as an unparalleled opportunity to learn new skills, meet new people and stretch their personal boundaries.
What kind of camp are you considering this summer? We’d love to hear about new, interesting choices!