Meeting new people, learning new skills, walking a lot more than usual—summer camp is as taxing as it is rewarding. Although camp is a fantastic character builder for any child, Meeting new people, learning new skills, walking a lot more than usual—summer camp is as taxing as it is rewarding. Although camp is a fantastic character builder for any child, your children will be spending a lot of time outdoors doing unfamiliar activities, so you can help your kids get more out of it with a little preparation work. And if you focus on activities that are interesting and fun, it won’t feel like work at all. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
As Redfin explains, “There are all kinds of advantages to becoming a birder, both for your child and the pair of you. To start, it’s an opportunity to learn about your immediate environment: exactly what kinds of birds live there, the kinds of habitats they live in, why your area’s climate is ideal for them, and how different birds have adapted to human presence.” It’s also an excellent way to help kids build patience, inspire curiosity about the natural world, and get them used to spending time outdoors and in nature. Your children will take this knowledge and curiosity with them, as they keep an eye out for the different species living around the camp.
Many summer camps have musical activities catering for all skill levels, and if your children have an interest in music, that’s likely something they’ll gravitate toward. As PBS points out, music education can help with brain development and even improve grades. You could test the waters by taking them to a local band practice (in the summer, many bands practice outdoors, sometimes in preparation for a march or parade). This can help your children get experience with different instruments, see what they prefer, and get some practice interacting with other children in a musical setting. You can also look up band camps in your area, as some of them offer day or weekend camps where kids can learn together, practice a few instruments, and put on a performance at the end.
Camps with access to water will most likely offer a range of water sports like canoeing, kayaking, fishing, swimming, and diving. If you’re looking at a camp like this, you might want to give your little campers some practice so that they are more confident in the water. Find out which water sports your prospective camp offers, and see if there are any local clubs with beginner classes in that sport. If your children are not strong swimmers, you could take them to swimming classes or even just to the pool for extra practice. The camp may offer lessons to children who can’t swim, and will limit them to activities in shallow waters, but it’s good to give your children a head start. Providence has some good tips for water safety here.
Most summer camps these days have varied accommodation options, ranging from “bring your own tent” to luxurious fixed residences. Even if you’re going for the latter, consider going on a family camping trip to give your child some idea of what it’s like to be away from home and out in nature. Find a campsite with some interesting activities to do nearby, such as trails to hike, water sports, rock climbing, or play areas for children. This way, as well as getting used to the outdoors, your happy campers can prepare physically, increasing their fitness levels as well as learning some new skills. You could even get another family or two involved so your children have other kids to play with.
Although the vast majority of children love their time at summer camp, it’s normal for them to feel nervous about it. Part of the reason for these nerves is that it is so new to them. These preparation activities will give your children a little more confidence by showing them what to expect.