Many parents want their kids to experience summer camps, but the idea of spending several nights away from home is a little scary for both the parent and the child. A great alternative, especially for younger kids, is to send them to day camp. Day camp, as the name implies, typically consists of a series of consecutive days where the child is away during the daytime hours. Children leave in the morning to have the camp experience and come home in the afternoon or evening to have dinner with their families and sleep in their own beds. Day camp gives kids many of the same learning experiences as a typical sleepover camp.
Camp is a great place for kids to explore their own independence and day camp is no different. Kids are dropped off at camp in the morning where they are challenged with new activities that they may not get the opportunity to try at home. They will make friends, eat lunch, and follow directions without the help of their parents. Kids start to feel more self confident and independent as the week goes on.
LEARN NEW SKILLS
Day camps typically offer opportunities to learn and grow in areas that children may not be exposed to at school. Kids can pick camps that tailor to their interests, including a variety of sports, music, dance, theater, science, art, and exploring nature. If your child is drawn to a particular activity or subject, chances are there is a camp that would interest him. Kids who are not particularly drawn to academics will thrive in day camps because they are rewarded for their talents and interests.
MAKE NEW FRIENDS
While you may sign your child up for a camp with a friend, your child will meet many new people his age. Children gain confidence as they learn to talk to and work with people who they have never played with previously. The opportunity to make friends with children who share similar interests and a fun new experience helps kids feel more comfortable when they are in new situations.
TAKE A BREAK FROM THE SCREEN
When children spend time at day camp, they get a much needed break from screen time. As video games, apps, TV, and tablets take more and more of our free time, getting the kids outside to play or having fun while learning new skills is a priceless benefit to parents. Who knows? When the kids come home from camp, they may realize they don’t need as much screen time as they thought they did.
GAIN LIFELONG SKILLS
Day camp helps kids learn skills they can use for a lifetime, including problem solving and leadership skills, improved confidence, and an openness to new things. Depending on the camp, they may learn other skills that will stick with them. My kids learned how to start a fire and cook their own meal at local scouting camps. My daughter gained the confidence to get on stage in front of a room full of parents and peers at theater camp. My kids improved their skills at sport camps and they faced their fears while trying the camp obstacle course. These experiences will stay with your child throughout his life as he is faced with challenges and successes in the future.
As you are deciding if day camp is right for your family, consider what type of camp your child would be most interested in. Choose something that you know he will be successful at and consider inviting a friend to sign up with your child. This can make him more comfortable that first day. Let your child help you choose the right camp and then let him know you think he will do great. ■