I was faced with a reality today I don't really want to digest quite yet. This is my children's last week of school before they're out for the summer. Normally this would be a wave of excitement. I can hear the song "schooools ooouuut for SUMMER!" I'm not singing. The summer time is fun for just about every kid but for a parent who works from home it can become the most logistical, time consuming, distracting nightmare known to man. I love my children. I love playing with them. I even love the swimming pool. But when you're used to having six hours of uninterrupted work time it can become very difficult to manage your work and your home life when they suddenly crash into each other.
To alleviate some of our stress - and yes it is "our stress" because they are stressed from being "bored" and I am stressed due to trying to fix their boredom while maintaining sanity - we planned a very active summer complete with summer camps. In our location the summer camps are plentiful. Most military installations offer something for your children to do during the summer, as well. What can be confusing is how to get your monies worth. If you're going to chalk up several hundred dollars you want more than a glorified babysitter.
The first thing you want to do is consider what your child likes to do. Does he/she like sports, art, or music? Do they have a niche that appeals/applies to them - like our military children and military camps? It helps to ask them - "if you were going to spend time at a camp this summer what would you like to do?"
Then do some research in your area and consider the different types of camps available. I did this by looking at local colleges, asking our Army Community Services, and by calling some businesses around town like our pottery studio.
Once you've gathered the camps take a look at size - how many are in the class? Would this overwhelm your child or are they ok with less one on one interaction? Sift through the programs and the different activities and make sure they are an age appropriate match to your child.
Look into the cost - is the time that your child is spending there equal to the cost - i.e. is it fair in price? As a parent you have to make a careful assessment of your family's financial limitations regarding camp costs. Nonprofit camps, such as the ASYMCA camps, are less expensive than private organizations. Ask yourself how much would you have to pay to feed, entertain, and provide childcare if your child stays home the same period of time they would be away at camp? Also remember to include the cost of any supplies needed. Then ask yourself if you can afford it - make sure it's in your budget.
Don't forget to factor in the location - can you easily transport them during the timeframe needed?
Believe it or not summer camp is something your children are going to remember for years to come and have a significant impact on your child's life. I still remember the camps I attended when I was a child - some of my favorite times.
Great resources to help you with your search for a summer camp:
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