The time has come to begin thinking about summer camp. Isn’t that hard to believe? I feel like we are just getting back into the swing of school after the holidays and gearing up for spring studies and, in the background, we are planning summer break, summer camp, and next school year. Whew! No wonder I’m exhausted!
Do you do summer camps for your kids? Some homeschooling families do and some don’t. We are on the side of DO. Most summers the kids attend at least one 1-week day camp, usually through American Heritage Girls and Trail Life here in our local area. It’s great fun and then kids look forward to it. Starting about 4 years ago our oldest also started attending at least one week of sleep over camp. We have done several including Operation Military Kids Camp, which she loved but the funding was not renewed and it isn’t available anymore, and a camp in Northern Indiana. Then she started attending our church camp, which I did as a kid, and that is, by far, her favorite now. She looks forward to it all year. So, she will be off for a week this summer in June/July for church camp and then return for a week of AHG camp, her last year as she is moving up to the older group next year.
If you have not considered summer camps for your kids, there are SO many options available. A traditional kids summer camp is one that generally begins in June and continues through August. This type of recreation is a popular activity among children of all ages as it gives them the opportunity to experience new things, meet new people and embark on a journey of independence. My kids love these camps as they hike, canoe, swim, get dirty, stay up late, and, of course, sing and eat smores! What camps is complete without that, right?
So, if you are weighing the options on whether a summer camp is for you and your kiddos, here are the 5 most popular reasons that parents choose to enroll their children in traditional summer camps.
Independence – Summer camps do allow your kids to get their first taste of independent – in a controlled environment, of course. Being a homeschool family, it’s definitely true that the kids are far from my apron strings most of the time. So summer camp gives my kids some time to be away from mom and dad, making friends, trying new things, and having fun in a safe and structured environment. If you have a child that has never been away from home without you, this can be the biggest thing that a sleep-away camp can offer – a chance to learn they will be fine without you while in an action-packed environment that will help that not focus on being homesick. If your aspirations are that you child will go to college someday, this can be the first step in preparing them for this life-changing event.
Responsibility – There are many responsibilities that your child will assume while away at summer camp. They won’t have you asking them if they brushed their teeth, combed their hair, or are dressed appropriately. They will likely have to be personally responsible for their living quarters and personal items without mom coming behind them to make sure they are put away and taken care of. My daughter is responsible for following the recommended packing list and packing for her summer camp. Assuming responsibility for this means that she must be prepared and ready for camp. This is a good lesson in preparation for many things in life.
Teamwork – No camp is short of fun, team building activities. Whether its tug-of-war over the mud pit or a fun camp of volleyball, kids at camp learn to work in teams and work with people they have just met, not just their same friends they play with all the time. There summer camp activities are a valuable lesson in how the adult world works, learning valuable lessons in teamwork with peers to achieve a common goals. I love that my daughter has the opportunity to work on a team in a canoe race, a building challenge, or preparing for a campfire skit. There are no shortage of team activities at summer camp. My son gets this same experience at day camp. I think this is one of the best roles that summer camp plays in my children’s’ lives.
Friendship – I met some great, life-long friends at summer camp and I see my daughter is on the way to the same. Now that she is returning for her 3rd year at our church camp, she is excited to see her friends that return each year as well. She is aspiring to return as a camp counselor when she is older because she sees the friendship that are forged by the counselors in high school and college that come there as well. Learning to make new friends in a new environment is a skill and summer camp provides my kids with this opportunity. In our homeschooling lives, we tend to run in the same circles with our activities, seeing the same kids and families at many of our extra curricular activities. Summer camps can provide a way to bust out of your inner circle and let you kids meet new people and forge new friendship. Learning how to interact with new people and appreciate the value of friendship is important and I love that summer camp is intimately involved in that.
Experiences – Summer camp provides my kids with atypical experiences that they would not typically get. They travel to a new place, embark on new and exciting experiences, learn new things, and live in a group setting with other people that are NOT their family, learning how to cohabitate in this manner. They learn things you might not do at home like hiking, learning about edible plants, sailing on the water, or singing new songs by the campfire. Thanks to summer camps my daughter knows how to hike, make a campfire, identify poison ivy, find sassafrass leaves to eat, canoed on a lake, and flown a plane. What? I know, right? How exciting to have such wonderful experiences!
There are so many advantages to summer camp. If you are considering whether to send your kiddos to traditional summer camps this year, you will find that registration has opened, so while you are still wearing your gloves and hats, you need to be thinking about the summer and getting your children registered. We have loved our summer camp experiences for our kids. So check it out and see what your kids can learn this summer.
Do you send your kids to traditional summer camp? What has your experience been? I would love to hear about it.
Here is a list of some summer camps you might want to check out for your kids: