Soon schools will be closing for summer vacation. I still remember the heady feeling of sunshine, nature and long days of freedom to do as I pleased.
I was lucky to be a country kid with acres of woods to explore and a small pond, where children gathered most every afternoon to cool from the summer heat. Many days, my mother would pack a bag lunch and my friends and I would spend hours riding on country roads, looking for the perfect spot for a picnic. People are usually surprised, when I confess that I didn’t enjoy summer camp. It certainly seemed like a perfect fit for a nature lover like me and I’m sure my parents thought they were giving me a special treat. In later years, they were surprised to learn that I spent most of my time counting the days until camp was over and I could return home. I was rather shy and didn’t make friends easily. Despite the idyllic camp setting, daily activities were fairly structured. We had a few activity choices, but we had to vary them. I would have chosen to alternate my time between water and crafts, but had to suffer through endless leaf identification lectures and badminton games. To say I hated it was an understatement.
My daughter loved camp and I remember rearranging my budget to get her extra weeks of attendance. The camp had a wider range of activities and fewer requirements. She happily spent her days riding horses, swimming and doing crafts. Besides enjoying the activities, she was better prepared for the experience. She had participated in a couple of day camp experiences and become comfortable with the camp experience. She had stayed overnight at her grandparents’ home and enjoyed sleepovers at friends’ homes. The right camp and the right preparation made a world of difference in her camp experience.
Nowadays, camps offer many specialized experiences. Children can choose from camping experiences as diverse as sports, computers and acting. Before perusing sleepaway camps, however, be sure to evaluate your child’s readiness for the experience. Then involve them in making a choice. Summer camp is a memorable time and being ready will make those memories good ones.