It is a new year and we are moving into a fresh start with a brand new attitude, so as you forge ahead, begin to plan for the warmer months for your offspring. They are going to want – no, they will crave – time away at camp, whether it is a day camp for one week or an overnight camp for one month. The kids will be more than willing – and you will be more than ready.

So, what is the best way to tackle your family’s approach to summer camps and which one suits your needs best?

Plan Early

First, assume camps are indeed taking place this summer. These established institutions are eager to have campers back on site and are doing everything they can to make sure proper safety protocols are in place. With that in mind, it is not too early to lay the groundwork, and there are a plethora of choices for all interests, ages, and budgets. Get a head start, and gather your information now.

Find the Right Fit

Luckily, there are choices, and luckily, you have the option to decide. What are your expectations for a camp selection besides the amount of time spent there and the cost? As a child you may have had an amazing time at a traditional overnight camp where you packed up for a month and participated in team games, arts and crafts, and campfire songs. If you want a similar experience for your child, it is attainable. However, if your son or daughter wants to hone in on a basic interest such as technology/STEM, performing arts, or a specific sport, those camps are available as well.

Make a List

Start with a general idea of what your kids want from a summer camp experience; then, decide when you need coverage and what your summer will look like regarding a balance between work and vacation. Use the Elementary Connections Summer Planning Calendar to assist with your organization. Start filling in the basic information and easily pare it down to the more specific details. For example, do you want a half day or full day camp? Overnight for a week or a month? Utilizing this handy week by week chart will help you stay organized.

Do Not Panic

Do not be overwhelmed. It is a process. For your convenience, utilize the handy Summer Program Comparison spreadsheet for easy analyzing of the different options the camps you select have to offer. All the information is organized from application deadlines to tuition costs and more. Remember, start early and stay organized. You’ve got this!

Budgeting for Camp

If you have several children attending camp, you may be searching for economical ideas to make the experience realistic and feasible. Consider applying early for any Early Bird Discounts that may be available, or if siblings are attending the same camp (think easy on your schedule!), check for multiple-sibling discounts. Although camp policies may vary, it is worth inquiring about scholarships and looking into flexible spending accounts or tax savings opportunities.

Are They Ready? 

Another big question to ponder is if your child is actually ready to attend camp. If it is their first time participating in a camp setting, you may want to ease them into the routine with a half day option and eventually increase their attendance as they mature and become more comfortable.

If they are asking to participate in overnight camp, they are probably ready for the experience. My son started asking to go to overnight camp the summer he was going to turn ten, and although I was not ready, he certainly was…and he thrived! When I picked him up, he even asked to stay longer!  

When deciding, consider if your child is independent, confident, and adaptable. If the answers are yes, chances are he too is ready to venture to an overnight camp. If you are still unsure, check out the “readiness” questions to review and help with your decision.

Choosing can be confusing, but it does not have to be. Follow these suggested guidelines and tools to assist with making a decision – start here with our Summer Planning Toolkit. Be informed and do not hesitate to ask questions as you want a good experience for both you and your child. Once the decision is made, enjoy the adventure with them as it is a time of growth for the entire family. 

Please share with family and friends!