We’re not just talking about what to put into your camper’s backpack on the first day…
When parents or guardians of younger campers call our office, one of the most common questions or concerns we hear is about whether their child is ready for a camp like LuHi. Since we’re already halfway through our first session of camp (we can’t believe it either!), we’ve been answering this type of question a lot lately! SO, we’ve come up with a list of questions to consider before signing up for any camp program:
1. Is my child even interested in camp?
This is definitely the place to start. If your child isn’t asking about camp, it could be that they don’t know it’s an option for their summer, or that they are genuinely not into the idea. Try to gauge whether your child is interested or willing to participating in a summer program just by asking them what they think! We’ve found that the kids whose parents have forced them join our programs aren’t usually the happiest campers, so consider the child’s opinion and give them choice in the types of activities they’re going to be doing. After all, they look forward to their summer vacation all school-year long.
2. Is my child used to being away from us for a full day?
Sometimes, a summer day camp program is a great way for a child to get used to being away from home, especially if they’re going to be starting Pre-K or Kindergarten in September! Many camps have half-day programs or customizable schedules for families that need the flexibility or campers who need to get used spending the day away from home. At LuHi, we run four 2-week sessions with full-day programs. The two-week session works for some kids who need to get their feet wet with a shorter length of the full-day program, but for others it can still be too long. It’s sort of like Goldilocks – you want the fit to be just right.
3. Does my child get along with other kids?
Camp can be a great way for shy or timid kids to come out of their shell. Summer camp acts as a low-pressure environment in which children can socialize with their peers through a mixture of enriching activities and playtime, the latter of which many educators agree is crucial for social development. However, before sending your little one off on the bus on the first day, it might be a good idea to ensure they share well with others and play nicely in a group. You might already know the answer to this from daycare, school, or even their interactions with siblings or cousins, but we definitely recommend considering this item before signing up for camp for the first time.
4. Does my child follow directions and respect other adults?
No parent wants to receive a call on the first day of camp that their child got into trouble. While it’s bound to happen occasionally (nobody’s perfect!), if you already know your child has difficulty listening to adults other than you and your partner or other family members, it might be smart to ease them into that type of environment before enrolling them in a full-day program. If your child is generally a good listener who follows directions with coaches, teachers, extended family, and other adults, they’ll be just fine at camp!
5. Is my child flexible?
Weather can be somewhat unpredictable during the summer, from sudden sun showers to thunderstorms or even heat waves! On top of that, most camps have so many moving parts, that schedules and plans can change at the drop of a hat! If breaking from normal schedule is something that upsets your child greatly, you may want to take that into consideration when choosing a camp program.
6. Would my child benefit from stepping outside of their comfort zone?
Even if you answered “no” to a few of the questions before, you might be seeking opportunities for your child to step outside of their comfort zone and be challenged. This applies to younger children and even teens who may need a little push to make new friends or develop their talents outside of school! We think this is a great idea, and love to encourage our campers to try new things, even if it’s just sampling the day’s special in the cafeteria! Just make sure to read all refund policies carefully before registering for something that may be a bit of a risk and give careful consideration to the length and type of program your camper will be jumping into.
7. Are we looking for an enriching or educational program, or just daily childcare?
Maybe you want a combination of both! Something that we see a lot of parents do at LuHi is pick 2 sessions of an instructional Athletics or STEM program and 2 sessions of one of our general Recreation programs so that their child has the chance to work on skill development and competition for part of the summer and have some general camp fun with friends for the other part! Camp can sometimes be a comparably-priced or even cheaper option than hiring a nanny or babysitter for the full day! If the program you’re looking at offers transportation and has a variety of program options like LuHi does, camp definitely seems like the obvious choice! Try to nail down what you really want your child’s summer to look like and weigh the pros and cons of each option.
8. Can the camps we’re interested in accommodate my child’s special needs?
There are two crucial things that follow along with this question: doing your research and being honest. Social media platforms like facebook that allow you to chat with other users and join/form groups can be the most amazing resources for choosing programs for your child with special needs. Reading parent testimonials and forums or even connecting with other parents one-on-one via chat can comprise the most powerful research you do in your search for a camp. When you move onto the next step of contacting the camps or visiting their websites, be completely honest and upfront with yourself and the staff about your child’s needs.
9. Should we do a day program or sleep-away camp?
This might seem like a no-brainer to some, but when kids hear about how much fun their friend has at sleep-away camp, they may be begging you to send them there next summer. There are even more questions to consider when choosing between sleep-away or day programs, the most obvious and important of which is whether your child is able to sleep away from home for more than a few nights at a time. If sleepovers, retreats, or other overnights tend to go well, sleep-away camp could be a great choice! However, if you’re getting the “can you come get me” phone call a few hours into a one-night sleepover with friends, consider starting out with a full or half-day program to ease into the camp environment.
10. What program is right for my camper?
We would love it if LuHi Summer Programs was the right fit for every camper, and we work very hard to offer diverse programs for different interests, age groups, and abilities! Our 2-week session model and full-day programs allow for enough time for campers to develop skills and build friendships while giving families the flexibility they need to plan family events, vacations, or relaxation! However, we recognize that not every camp is going to be the best fit for every camper. Attending an Open House in the off-season (LuHi holds 4) is a great way for you and your child to get the lay of the land by exploring the premises and speaking directly with the staff, directors, and counselors. More and more, camps are relying on their online platforms like websites and social media to get information about their programs out to their potential customers. Follow a few of your top contenders on social media now to witness all of the summer fun and get to know their programs a little better! Most importantly, let your child part of the conversation and research process so that they can start getting excited for the best summer ever!
There are countless factors to consider when choosing whether or not to send a child to camp, but at the end of the day, you know your child best! If you’ve done the research, asked the questions, and spoken with your child, we’re sure you’ll have a happy camper on your hands throughout the summer!
– The LuHi Team-