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Summer Camp Strategy – Make the Best Summer Plans a Reality

Summer is Around the Corner (Really!)

summer camp, education, learning, science, parenting

Summer Camp can be an enriching experience filled with social emotional learning (and fun!)

With winter in full swing, it is hard to imagine warm weather and the end of school ever being a reality.  But, before we know it, the final bell for the last day of school will ring, and our kids will come running out with boundless energy.  As parents, we need to be prepared and have a summer plan.

Summer camps are a great way to keep our kids engaged and cared for while we work in the summers, but even more importantly, they give our children wonderful opportunities to explore their world, to grow socially and intellectually, and to get out their endless exuberance.  Because of those reasons, camps are in high demand. So, as with most things, it is the early bird that gets the worm (aka the best camps in the area).

Step 1: Brainstorm and make a summer camp list

Talk with your child about things that they would like to do this summer.  Think about your child’s interests.  There are camps for almost everything under the sun: cooking, art, film, Legos, science, you name it…

Also talk to your child about what kind of camps they are comfortable with.  Some children are independent and secure enough, not to mention mature enough, to want to try out some overnight camps.  Other children may think that sounds fun, but when it comes time to leave their home and family for a week, they may not be ready.  Consider doing a test run first.  If your child hasn’t been away to a friend’s for a couple nights, then they probably aren’t ready to leave everything they know and be gone for a week.

Step 2:  Research what summer camps are available

A basic Google search will give you a lot of options, but here are a few sites that might simplify your search.

  • The American Camp Association (ACA) is a database that filters the camp offerings across the nation.  There are 3717 camps/11,071 programs to choose from.  You can filter the choices by costs, duration, participants (including family or individuals), activities, affiliations, disabilities, and location.
  •  There are a number of camps that provide kids with amazing opportunities to explore science, technology, and engineering, including:  Colorado Stem Connect , CU Science Discovery Programs, ID Tech Camp at CU Boulder
  •  The Denver Post has an amazing supplemental insert that can be viewed online and that lists many of the camps available in Colorado.
  •  KidsCamp.com is a nationwide database that also allows parents to search by activities, dates, and locations.
  •  Denver YMCA also has a number of camps to choose from.  
  • Colorado Parent Magazine has a handy Summer Camp Guide filled with great information and links to innovative summer camps.

Once you have researched and found some camps that might be of interest to your child, then you should apply as soon as possible to secure your child’s spot. But before you do, make sure you create a calendar that outlines the summer.  Plug in time with grandparents, time with friends, and mark off the week after school gets out and before school starts to give your child some much-needed downtime.

Step 3 – Preparing your kids for summer camp

Camping List: Check to make sure your child has all the supplies they need for camp.  Read and reread the packing list.  If the camp doesn’t allow phone use, prepare your child.  If they can’t have electronics, keep them home.   Make sure that they have tried out any new equipment in order to test it and make sure it is comfortable and in working order before they head to camp.

No matter their age, Kids love a variety of summer activities.

Talk: Discuss with your child what the sleeping arrangements are going to be like.  Talk about showering and whether or not it is in a setting that is different from what they have experienced at school or at home.  Find out if they will be sleeping in a big room with 10 other kids or if they will be partnered up with someone.  The better you prepare them for anything unique they may experience the more likely they will be ready and enjoy their experience.  But don’t worry too much because part of the camp experience is learning to navigate new situations and helping your child build confidence.  They may fail, but they also have the supports to overcome any challenges.

Make a Plan: Have a homesickness plan!   Give your child some strategies for working through feelings of fear and sadness.  Encourage them to tell a counselor.  Counselors are trained to help children work through those feelings.  Encourage them to go talk to a new friend, make a new friend, or try an activity when they start to feel blue.  Help them redirect themselves with deep breaths and happy thoughts

Give Yourself a Pat on the Back:  You are providing your child with an unforgettable experience that will prepare them for the future!