Are you ready to embark on an unforgettable summer adventure for your child?
Choosing the perfect summer camp can be a daunting task, but with the right guidance and planning, you can ensure a fulfilling and enjoyable experience for your little one. In this blog post, we’ll guide you through the crucial steps on how to choose a summer camp, tailored to your child’s interests, needs, and your family’s budget. Let the adventure begin!
- Explore your child’s interests and passions to find the perfect summer camp.
- Encourage physical activity, creative pursuits & new skills for a meaningful experience.
- Research accreditation, safety measures & logistics for an enjoyable and safe camp adventure!
Identify Your Child’s Interests
As parents, we want our children to have the best summer camp experience possible. For this, zeroing in on your child’s interests and passions is key. Encourage them to express their interests in specialty camps, such as sports, arts, or STEM-focused camp programs, and explore these interests further while engaging in activities that are new to them or outside of their typical day-to-day hobbies. Take into account their activity level, comfort with large or small groups, and outdoor or indoor preferences. Also consider a camp that incorporates the interests they already have while also providing opportunities to discover new interests, things they are not able to easily do when home.
This way, they’ll have a meaningful summer full of exciting opportunities like swimming, making new friends, and gaining confidence while learning new skills.
Sports and Outdoor Activities
For children who thrive in the great outdoors, consider camps that offer a variety of sports and outdoor activities. Some examples include:
- Horseback riding
There’s no shortage of thrilling activities at our great summer camp – Camp Kamaji in Minnesota.
In Northern Minnesota, for example, most camps take advantage of the Lake region’s exciting waterfront opportunities, where children can enjoy lake- life and explore the Northwoods. This ensures your child stays active, and engaged, and forms new friendships while relishing the wonders of nature. There is countless research about the benefits of nature for children.
Since Minnesota is the land of 1000 lakes, there are plenty of lake-front camps with water activities to explore. For most people, these types of opportunities are not easily accessed throughout the school year.
Arts and Creative Pursuits
If your child has a passion for the arts, look for summer camps that focus on arts and creative pursuits. These camps offer a wide range of programs such as:
- Visual arts (Check out Camp Kamaji’s Art Village)
- Performing arts
In the twin cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, children can explore world-class fine art museums and attend the annual Minnesota Fringe Festival, immersing themselves in the vibrant arts scene. Nurturing your child’s artistic talents and passions aids in their creativity and self-expression development at the Twin Cities campus.
For children fascinated by science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), consider enrolling them in a STEM-focused summer camp. These camps provide hands-on experience in subjects like computer programming, robotics, and digital media, helping your child develop valuable skills for their future.
In a rapidly changing world, fostering problem-solving, critical thinking, and creativity through STEM-focused programs is essential. Choosing a camp that offers these learning opportunities paves the way for your child’s success in our technology-driven world.
Traditional Sleepaway Camp
Many parents want to find an experience for their children that will allow their kids to put away screens, slow down and enjoy more traditional summer camp activities in addition to some modern additions! Your daughter might be a pro-athlete when at school but has she tried sailing? Your artsy child has decorated your home with all sorts of beautiful work, has she tried a climbing wall? As parents we want to help our children develop more than one interest or skill, they are dynamic and let’s help them discover new pursuits!
Set a Budget and Consider Financial Factors
Once you’ve identified your child’s interests, it’s time to set a budget for their summer camp experience. Keep in mind that financial factors like transportation, meals, insurance, and spending money need to be factored into your decision, not just the camp’s tuition.
Setting a budget can help you find a summer camp that is both cost-effective and high-quality, ensuring a wonderful experience for your child.
Planning ahead and considering all potential costs will allow you to confidently select the best summer camp that fits your family’s financial situation.
Day Camp vs. Overnight Camp
Another important aspect to consider when choosing a summer camp is whether to opt for a day camp or an overnight camp. Day camps offer fun and friendship during the day, while overnight camps allow for exploration and memory-making over a few days or weeks.
Most children are ready for an exciting overnight camp experience around the age of 8 or 9, although some mature 6- and 7-year-olds may also be ready. Day camps are usually seem more budget-friendly, but you are also still spending on transportation, meals and weekend entertainment, which can add up during the summer. Investing in an overnight summer camp experience which you can budget for ahead of time and limits the amount scheduling and shuttling around you have to do. Your child’s age, readiness, and your family’s needs should be taken into account when making a decision.
Weighing the pros and cons of each option can help you find the best fit for your child’s summer adventure.
Research Camp Accreditation and Safety
Ensuring your child’s safety and well-being is a top priority when choosing a summer camp. One way to guarantee a safe and enjoyable experience is by researching the camp’s accreditation and safety measures. Camps accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA) meet hundreds of stringent health and safety standards, ensuring your peace of mind.
ACA-accredited camps take extra steps to ensure the safety of their campers. Camps must adhere to specific safety precautions and trainings in order to receive their accreditation. Opting for an ACA-accredited camp gives you the confidence that your child will have access to the highest-quality camps in the nation.
Logistics and Location
Logistics and location play a significant role in choosing the perfect summer camp for your child. Consider the following factors:
- Convenience of pick-up and drop-off points
- Proximity of the camp to your home or workplace
- Flexible scheduling options, allowing campers to sign up for as many days or weeks as they want
- Accessibility by airport
Most of our Camp Kamaji campers fly into Minneapolis-St Paul where we greet them and start their Kamaji adventure together. Our campers love that they fly on an airplane and feel camp begins right at the airport!
Additionally, many camps can accommodate family vacations or trips by allowing you to cancel a few days or a week, depending on their policies. Taking these factors into account can make the camp experience more convenient and enjoyable for your entire family.
Diverse Camp Environments
A diverse group of campers, environments, and activities create a well-rounded summer camp experience. Many parents ask about the diversity of activities when meeting with Kat about sending their camper to Camp Kamaji, and so we know this is on everyone’s mind.
While a specific, highly focused program might be right for some campers, a diverse program with unique opportunities is a great way for your camper to find out what she likes and explore activities that might not have otherwise been an option.
Special Needs Programs
Children with disabilities or medical conditions deserve an equally enjoyable and engaging camp experience. Special needs programs are designed to provide a safe and supportive environment for these children, offering specialized activities, equipment, and staff to ensure their needs are met. Opting for a camp with a special needs program guarantees full participation in camp activities and necessary support for your child with disabilities or medical conditions, ensuring a successful summer experience.
Cultural and Language Immersion
Exposing your child to new cultures and languages can broaden their horizons and foster global understanding. Cultural and language immersion camps provide an enriching experience, allowing children to deeply explore a new language and culture. These camps nurture empathy and open-mindedness and help children become global citizens.
While sending your camper to an immersive camp to learn a new language might be out of your comfort zone, ask your camp directors about the diversity of cultures of people who visit the camp:
- Are they mostly local?
- Have they all come from the same area?
- Does the camp have a history of international campers?
Having campers from a variety of backgrounds, and cultures living and learning together can help broaden understanding, empathy, and cultural awareness. Camp Kamaji campers come from all over the United States and countries such as Mexico, Canada, France, Belgium and even Japan!
Visit and Communicate with Camp Staff
Before making a final decision, it’s key to visit the camp and interact with the camp staff. Doing so can give you great insight into the facilities, programs, and overall atmosphere, ensuring it’s the perfect fit for your child. Since some of the best camp programs might not be convenient to visit, ask the camp director if they can meet for a virtual call or even come visit in your home. It is important to talk with the camp director to gain a better sense of the “personality” of the camp.
Ask the camp director about the camp’s retention rate, activities, and programs available for kids a few years ahead of your child’s age to gauge their growth potential at the camp. Word of mouth from campers or staff can also provide insider knowledge that can be invaluable in finding the best summer camp for your child.
Prepare Your Child for Camp
Preparing them both emotionally and practically is crucial to pave the way for your child’s successful summer adventure. Here are some steps you can take:
- Discuss the possibility of homesickness and remind them that they can stay connected with family members by sending photos or sharing their feelings with fellow campers and their counselors.
- Ensure they are part of the packing process with you so they feel a sense of ownership over their experience and have a piece of home with them while at camp.
- Address any potential concerns that your camper has and ensure they have everything they need.
- Remember that sometimes the best opportunities for growth, fun and core memories can feel challenging. Providing your child with a summer camp experience is a gift, and while you will miss them, think about all the benefits there are for your child long term.
By taking these steps, you can ease any anxiety or homesickness your child may experience and set them up for an unforgettable summer journey.
In conclusion, finding the best summer camp for your child involves considering their interests, setting a budget, weighing the pros and cons of day and overnight camps, researching accreditation and safety, taking logistics and location into account, and seeking inclusive and diverse environments. By following this guide, you’ll be well on your way to ensuring a fulfilling and enjoyable summer adventure for your child, creating memories that will last a lifetime.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I choose the right camp?
When choosing the right camp, consider factors like age range and activities, location and transportation, cost and financial assistance, staff qualifications, safety and health measures, as well as traditional overnight camps, day camps, and specialized camps such as sports, arts, and academics. Have a conversation with the camp director to learn more about the “personality” of the camp.
What is the best age to go to summer camp?
Eight to twelve years old is the ideal age to begin summer camp, as this allows for the child’s individual maturity and personality to be taken into account.
What should parents look for in a summer camp?
Parents look for a variety of activities when choosing summer camps, so their children can explore and pick up new skills and interests. The possibilities are endless, from arts and crafts to archery, sailing, and wilderness exploration! Think Camp Kamaji might be a good fit for your daughter? Meet Kat, Kamaji alumni and camp director through zoom!
What financial factors should I consider when choosing a summer camp?
When choosing a summer camp, factor in expenses like transportation, meals, insurance, and spending money to create a realistic budget. While the cost of an overnight camp can seem daunting at first it is typically all-inclusive. When budgeting for day camps, consider the cost of meals and additional entertainment costs during weekends and evenings.
What is so great about Camp Kamaji?