What You Need to Know to Find the Best Summer Camp for Your Kids
With the beginning of the school holidays fast approaching, now is the time to get your child’s summer organised. Have you begun to look for a summer camp for your child?
Summer camps are not about childcare for working parents. A good summer camp offers children incredible experiences. They can give children the chance to explore a new educational setting and mix with different children away from the pressures of their normal classroom environment.
This can work wonders on their confidence and independence. Kids can have new interests and friendships sparked at camp that will last a lifetime.
Here, we look at the many advantages of summer camps and give you some tips on how to maximise these benefits.
How are summer camps different from school?
The atmosphere of a camp is usually very different from the classroom. In a camp environment, there’s more emphasis on hands-on fun. This key difference means kids perceive camps as recreational and not at all like school, even if adults know children will be learning about a lot of things.
The chance to do so many practical activities means kids will likely let go of any reservations or hang-ups about school. The right camp can dramatically improve a child’s perception of their own abilities, skills and interests.
Summer camps can also enable your child access to different equipment and facilities, or state-of-the-art technology that they may not have the chance to use at school.
Teachers and camp leaders possess a high level of expertise and experience, meaning they are in the perfect position to inspire your kid to participate in camp activities. It’s amazing how many new pathways a great summer camp can open up.
So, how do you find the perfect summer camp?
Before you begin any search, you’ll need to work out the practical limitations. These will include travel time and arrangements, your budget, as well as how many days or weeks you’d like your kids to attend. Overnight camps are popular. Is this something you’d like to consider?
Once you know the above, you can begin your search. Look at sites like this one to find your options, as well as local magazines and newspapers, and talk to friends and acquaintances to see if they have any recommendations.
Once you have a few prospects, you can follow the steps below.
1. Put your child first
Your child’s interests are the obvious place to start. If they love arts and craft, tennis, or gaming, or have any other special interest, they will almost certainly jump at the chance to do it all summer. While this would be the easiest choice, it’s not necessarily the best choice.
Camp is the ideal opportunity to broaden their horizons and offer them new, exciting opportunities. Summer is the perfect time for them to get out, explore and do something completely different.
That said, it’s really important that your children are interested in the camp; otherwise they may be reluctant to give it a go. They need to attend it with a positive frame of mind to get the most out of the experience.
So, make a start by asking your children if there’s anything else that currently interests them. Kids have rapidly developing minds and their interests can change often. Perhaps there’s an activity that’s caught their eye recently that they haven’t already mentioned to you, so probe a little..
If nothing new springs to mind, then it would be a good idea to look at summer camps that include their favourite hobby or subject at school or anything related to their leisurely pursuits. Make sure it has a mix of other activities, too, so that they can develop new skills and interests.
For instance, a STEM camp with math classes for kids would be great for kids who love engineering and building Lego structures. An animation camp would interest kids who love tech and/or drawing and cartooning.
2. Now apply your parental judgement
Now your child’s had their say and you have some ideas for camps they could join, it’s the time to think more deeply about what you want them to get out of it.
Parents know their children better than anyone else. Your parental judgement will assist you in choosing the right summer camp that will help your child reach the next level of their learning and development.
For instance, your child may be desperate to go to the same camp as their best friend, and that may or may not be the best choice for them. Perhaps they would gain more independence and confidence by spending a week doing something different. Perhaps you think they’d benefit from learning some brand new skills elsewhere. What are your feelings?
It’s all about getting the right balance. A good camp will always hold plenty of child appeal but should also demonstrate clear educational objectives and have a supportive environment.
If you are unsure, why not consider splitting time between two camps? An educational camp alongside a sports-based camp can provide a good balance and keep both you and your child happy. Alternatively, why not make a shortlist to choose from so that your child can contribute to the decision-making process?
3. Ask questions
Before you organise a place for your child in your first choice of camp, there’s still a lot to think about. The safety and welfare of your child is your number one priority so always ascertain whether your child will be cared for properly. Make sure you have answers to the following questions:
- Can you view the first aid and medical emergency procedure policies and are you satisfied with them?
- What security and safeguarding measures apply to keep your child safe?
- How do the staff handle discipline and poor behaviour?
- How are the camp staff vetted and screened?
- What are the ratios of adults to children?
- If food is provided, are you satisfied that it will be of good quality and suit any dietary needs your child has?
- How well-qualified and experienced are the staff?
If you are satisfied with their answers to the above questions, it’s time to check out reviews of the camp. Are there plenty of testimonials and positive reviews? Can the camp organisers tell you how many customers return regularly?
Ultimately, you need to keep in mind that you’re looking for a summer camp that’s going to provide plenty of positive experiences for your child, both educationally and socially.
What’s essential in choosing the best summer camp is to do lots of research and to engage in lots of parent-child discussions. Hopefully, you’ll find something your children will get value from and may even influence their lives for the better.
Maloy Burman is the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Premier Genie FZ LLC. He is responsible for driving Premier Genie into a leadership position in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Education space in Asia, Middle East and Africa and building a solid brand value. Premier Genie is currently running 5 centers in Dubai and 5 centers in India with a goal to multiply that over the next 5 years.