1. Camp keeps young kids active. Camp inspires activity because there’s so much to do there.
A good, all-around program offers adventure seekers lots of strength-building, stamina-boosting outdoor options.
A typical day at a traditional camp includes swimming, volleyball, soccer, tennis, golf, or gymnastics, along with low-key activities like arts and crafts and music. Specialty camps focus on one sport or activity, such as softball or hockey.
Before you plunk down money, check out a variety of camps in your area. Visit a privately-owned facility, a school-based camp, a community camp, and even a Y camp to get you started.
2. Camp cuts kids’ screen time dramatically. Kids who attend camp spend far less time noodling around with PCs, pads, and smart phones than do kids who have no formal plans for summer.
Do the math: Six hours a day at camp translates to an easy six hours without electronics. A device-free camp makes online time plummet. Some camps even have a no-screen policy: No devices on the bus to and from camp or on camp property.
3. Camp boosts social skills and builds self-confidence. Camp gives 6-to-12-year-olds a way to connect with kids who have similar social, intellectual, and athletic interests. Kids can also make friends with like-minded peers from other communities, broadening their social circle. Older kids can navigate the social landscape in a safe and supervised environment.
Day camp is also great for kids who are shy or not quite ready for a sleep-away adventure. Many find it provides a lot of the benefits of a residential camp (independence, friendship, and exercise) minus the drawbacks, such as anxiety, which some experience at overnight camp.
4. Camp develops kids’ interests. Do you have a child who’s an astronomy buff? There’s a camp for that. There are also facilities for dancers, musicians, and future filmmakers. Ask friends, teachers, and parents of repeat campers for recommendations.
5. Camp welcomes all children. A number of camps across the country offer programs for kids with physical, emotional, or intellectual challenges.
Several provide medical care for special needs children. Others offer one-on-one buddies. Some add academic tutoring for kids with learning disabilities. Another option: camps that include special needs kids in traditional programs.
For the best results, include your camper-to-be in the decision-making process. Explore interests together. Attend a camp fair, visit facilities, or tour them virtually. And don’t forget to check local colleges and universities for additional programs.