Summer Camp Choice

Once school is over for the year, children around the world will be on summer holiday. Parents and caregivers will face the important question of what to do with the children. More and more people are wondering whether camp is the answer to those long, lazy, hazy crazy days of summer, that sometimes you can find yourself wishing weren’t always here, at least not so quick!

What is camp? Not all countries offer summer camp. America has the luxury of there being many different varieties of summer camp from the complete board-away experience where children spend most of the holiday in fully catered organized camp, to the day camp where parents drop the child off and they return home each evening. There are also different themes of camp from adventure experiences, to sporting, music or even religious camps.

For some parents summer camp is the only way to manage childcare responsibilities with their career or other commitments, like nursing a sick relative. Generally so long as camp is affordable and the child is happy to go, not too many questions are asked.

For others camp is not an option. Perhaps the family enjoys the luxury of a stay-at-home parent and there is no way the parent would give up important bonding time with the child. Or maybe there is extended family nearby and the expense of camp as a child minding facility is prohibitive (no matter how much junior wants to go.)

Whatever personal circumstances parents may face there are some important pros and cons to consider about summer camp.

An educational experience

Camp can be a great educational experience especially if there is a focus like learning to rock climb or touring with an orchestra to perform. While camps can provide great educational experiences there are always drawbacks to learning in this environment. From the child’s homesickness, to them having an accident distant from parents; from unpleasant social experiences being thrust into close quarters with strangers, to simply picking up unwanted values, attitudes and behaviours. If a parent really wants to provide an enriched educational opportunity over summer then often carefully planned family holidays and activities can usually provide just as much input as camps without the drawbacks.

Time away from family

Camps are also a great time for parents and children to have a break from each other. Both parties can have a little more space and time apart helping to appreciate family relationships upon return. There is only one problem, most families need more time together not less! While camp might seem the answer, especially when there are strained home relationships, very often it merely delays facing issues that are best faced sooner rather than later.

Value for money

Camps can often be expensive and parents are ultimately forced to ask whether it is value for money. Undoubtedly camps that get external support, like overseas training camps for promising athletes and gymnasts, may be a good deal and provide opportunity and experience that the home could not, but for most children the expense of camp must be weighted carefully against the benefit.

Boredom buster

Camps are often regarded as great boredom busters with activities and programs that make sure children are not left at home all summer getting bored or even getting into trouble. While structured activities certainly do make sure that children are occupied that is about all they do. They certainly do not stop children feeling bored or getting up to mischief. And as a long term boredom busters they have exactly the opposite effect. Children get used to structure and never get used to learning how to amuse themselves.

The antidote to TV

Camps can help keep children away from long hours in front of the TV, although parents may be disappointed to find that many camps provide recreation time where TV is available, movies are screened and DVDs freely available. It is totally possible that children end up with more screen time than at home. If parents are turning to camps to help crack a bad TV habit then they may need to seek other strategies.

Whether you choose camp or not this year be sure to make the most of those lazy, crazy, hazy days of summer. Treasure the moments and memories that you create. Then on a cold wintry day, when your children have grown up, you’ll have plenty of happy memories. Make sure you won’t need to be wishing, as jazz musician Nat King Cole put it in the 1960s hit, that summer could always be here.