Camp season is upon us & to help you help your kiddos get ready, we’ve lined up some guest posts by LeAnne from Inter-Varsity Camps! Be sure to join us on our Facebook Fan Page for a live chat with Camp Exert, LeAnne on Tuesday, June 12 from 10-11am EST. Post your camp questions on our wall & LeAnne will have an answer for you!
How do I choose a summer camp for my children? Summer camp is most easily divided these days into day camps and residential (overnight) camps. In both categories, there’s a camp for just about everything you can think of … sports, music, art, computers, sailing, biking. There are faith-based camps, water-oriented camps, single sex or co-ed camps, out-tripping camps, horse camps, family camps, and camps for children with things like autism or diabetes or cancer.
Summer Camp is a great place for kids to have new experiences, try new activities, and make new friends. They develop new skills, and build self-confidence, independence and problem solving skills.
If your kids have never been away from home, a day camp is a good place to start, maybe even just a half day, say for a morning. Ask your mommy-friends for a recommendation: reputation is important! And maybe it’s obvious, but try to choose one that has activities your child likes.
Consider inviting one of their friends to go along – that often makes it more fun for your child, and they have someone to talk with about it when they return. It also makes it easier when you leave them for the morning or the day or the week. Check out the age of the staff, the camper:staff ratio, what sort of application process is in place and the training the staff are given before they are given any responsibilities with kids. Ask about general care (hats & sunscreen), safety procedures, camp rules, and what sort of problem it would take for the staff to call you. Get a sense of the flow of the day so you can prepare your child to know what to expect.
For a residential camp, most kids are usually ready between the ages of 8 and 10. It’s helpful if they’ve stayed overnight at a friend’s place or grandparents beforehand. If they’ve attended a day camp or two, or you’ve gone to camp as a family, they might be ready a year or two earlier. I’ve found that if a young child – say 6-7 – has an older sibling who’s already been to camp and is going back, the younger child may be ready at that earlier age. Your child doesn’t need to be extroverted to enjoy camp, but being comfortable meeting new people sure helps. And again, taking a friend along the first time can help smooth the way.
In choosing a residential camp, be sure you ask all the same questions above, and in addition, you probably want to ask about meals, bedtime routines and accommodations. You may want to tour the camp in advance – many camps welcome that. You may want to educate your child on the difference between clean clothes and clothes that have been worn… and perhaps stating the obvious… you might want to avoid white T-shirts if you have boys! Beyond that, most camps will give you lots of instructions about what to bring and what to leave at home. Reading those will either answer or prompt further questions.
Finally, my bias. Look for a camp with longevity, one with staying power. In this economy, it tells you they’re doing something right. Inter-Varsity’s Pioneer Camps have been around for over 80 years. Located in BC, Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario, they run 1 and 2 weeks programs for kids aged 5-18. Want to give your child the experience of a life time, maybe a technology-free week filled with adventure, activities, faith and new friends? This year they’re offering a 20% discount on fees for first time campers. Check them out at http://www.pioneercampcontest.com?blog= or get more information at www.pioneercamp.com. You’ll be glad you did.
About the Author:
LeAnne is married and is the proud mom of 2 boys, aged 6 and 8. Both boys are quickly becoming veteran campers as LeAnne works as VP Camping for Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship. In this role she is responsible for leading the work of 9 Christian camps across Canada – 4Pioneer Camps and 5 Circle Square Ranches. When she’s not working, LeAnne loves hanging out with her husband and her boys, bike riding, playing Wii, and making music together.