Ah, yes. The ‘should I send my child to overnight camp’ dilemma. With all that’s gone on in the world over the past three years, maybe it’s a no-brainer. From whitewater rafting to team-building to performing arts, sleep-away camps appeal to a wide range of interests.
Benefits of Overnight Camp
In addition to learning new skills, children learn how to collaborate and live in community while at camp, gaining self-confidence and independence through problem-solving and teamwork. Moreover, the psychological importance behind face-to-face communication is more important than ever. In a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2018, 45 percent of teens say they are online on a near-constant basis. Parents must step in and make sure kids are given more opportunities to be with others face-to-face.
Traditional vs. Specialty
Specialty camps are designed for kids interested in pursuing a specific interest. Traditional camps, on the other hand, offer a combination of programming. Children can try different activities, including those they may not have tried otherwise, whether it’s horseback riding, rock climbing or recording in a singing studio.
Every year, about 26 million children attend roughly 15,000 day and overnight summer camps across the United States, says Tom Rosenberg, who leads the American Camp Association. Today, it’s hard to imagine a more ideal escape for kids having lived through the pandemic and what became an extraordinary time of loneliness and upheaval. At its best, camp offers kids a chance to learn outside the classroom and helps them build strong relationships with other children, themselves and nature.
A Girl Goes to Sleep-Away Camp
Beau Howard first attended overnight camp at the age of 10. She didn’t know what to expect, but her dad — a pull-up-your-bootstraps-kind-of-guy — wanted her to experience sleep-away camp like he had as a boy. Beau’s mom wasn’t as enthusiastic, but Beau showed real enthusiasm for going and that made the difference. They agreed that she would go and they began looking at sleep-away camps in the South.
Beau is in her twenties now and she still has close relationships with her camp bunk mates. Today the friends talk about sending their kids to camp one day (when the kids eventually come along).
“It required a lot of trust for me to agree to send Beau to camp that first year,” says Beau’s mom. “But she had such a great experience and made so many friends, I realized I was wrong to try and hold her back.”
Nuts and Bolts
Consider your child’s physical and emotional maturity first and include your child in any decision making.
Start planning early.
Check out websites, attend camp fairs, get recommendations from friends and visit prospective camps.
Zero-in on the types of activities you want your child to experience then find the best place for them to do those things.
Meet camp directors.
It’s not enough to check camps out online. After you’ve made a list of the camps that interest you, reach out to the director to forge a relationship and let that guide you forward.