Millions of children participate in youth sports every year. While it is great for kids to be active, some families have bad experiences with over-aggressive coaches, even parents who go too far when pushing kids at practice or cheering during a competition. Worries about injuries are another reason that youth sports have seen a decline in recent years. Getting kids outdoors and incorporating fun exercise into their summer routine is essential for good health, so if parents do not want to enroll their children in a summer sport a great alternative is camp.
Knowing which camp is the right one to send your child to can be a hard decision to make. Parents have to worry about the camp’s reputation, if it encompasses activities that interest their children and most importantly if the experience will help children grow and learn new skills. The Camping and Education Foundation has created the following tips to help parents compare camps and select the right one for their child.
Match Age with Activity – Look for a camp that will challenge your child as he or she grows and that offers varying levels of activities. Children can start off as campers, they can learn new skills as they get older and eventually take on a leadership role as a camp counselor.
Stretch Boundaries – A camp that offers activities that pique your child’s interest should be considered when researching options, but avoid choosing a camp that does not give your child a chance to try new things and learn. A well-balanced camp experience should be a top priority, one where children have the freedom to do what they enjoy and the chance to branch outside of their comfort zone.
Disconnect from Technology – It is a well-known fact that children spend too much time staring at screens today. Many summer camps do not allow children to bring cell phones or have access to computers and video games while at camp. While at first children can feel isolated, by the end of camp they will have had free time to enjoy nature, discover them selves and make new friends without the influence of technology.
Consider Nutrition – Mystery meat, pizza and nachos are called to mind when many people think about stereotypical camp food. But, many camps offer healthy meal choices filled with fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Plus, if your child has a special diet do not be surprised that you can find summer camps that cater to gluten-free and other allergy/special dietary requirements.
Talk to Alumni – Quality summer camps will have dozens of parents and children willing to sing its praises. As part of your research process, ask camp directors if there are parents in your area you can speak with to learn more about what they thought of the camp and their children’s experience.
Start with a Test Drive – If you or your child is nervous about heading to summer camp for the first time, test the waters. Sign up for a short session to start and if your child enjoys the experience, plan for a longer, more immersing experience next summer.
About The Camping and Education Foundation The Camping and Education Foundation’s mission is to develop young men and women in body and spirit through wilderness experiences that celebrate a love of the outdoors. This mission is as strong today as it was ninety-two years ago when Camp Kooch-i-ching first opened its doors to young men on Deer Island and for the past twelve years that Camp Ogichi Daa Kwe has been open for young women. For more information, visit: www.campingedu.org.