A Parent's Guide to Summer Camps

Summer camps give tweens the opportunity to grow and learn

Summer camps offer children the opportunity to learn new skills, make new friends, and maybe even establish a little independence from mom and dad. But finding the right camp, and preparing your child for the experience can be quite the chore. You can make the process a bit easier on yourself and your tween with just a little preplanning. Below are a few tips and considerations parents need to know when considering summer camps for their tweens. 

1
Questions to Ask When Searching for Camp Programs

Select a summer camp that fits with your budget.
Summer camp memories can last a lifetime. Photo: Marek Waldhas, freeimages.com

Many summer camps are booked by the time summer rolls around, so begin your search early in the year. Ask for recommendations from family and friends, and be sure you ask all the right questions. Is the camp accredited? What are the staff's qualifications? How long has the director been in charge? How do they handle homesickness? Asking questions on the front end will help you find the camp that's right for your tween. Attending a summer camp fair will give you the opportunity to meet camp staff, ask questions, and get a feel for the experience. 

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2
The Benefits of Overnight Camps

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Summer camps are not all the same. Parents can choose from sports camps, science camps, day camps, and just about anything else you can think of. Of course, many tweens are ready to try an overnight camp for a few days, a week, or more. The benefits of attending an overnight camp include bonding with friends, establishing independence and learning how to take care of yourself when mom or dad isn't there. Ask any over night camp you're considering to explain to you how they work with first time campers, address homesickness, and other potential challenges. If your child is shy, or has allergies or other physical issues, be sure you know how the camp is prepared to handle your child's particular situation.

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3
How to Cut the Cost of Summer Camp

There's no doubt about it, summer camp can be expensive. But there are ways to reduce the cost of summer camp through camperships, volunteer work, etc. If the cost of camp is preventing your child from attending, don't give up. You might be able to cut those summer camp ​costs, and give your child the experience of a ​life time. Prepare a budget so that you know how much you can afford, and how you can save. 

4
How to Prevent Summer Camp Homesickness

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Are you worried your child may end up suffering from homesickness? There are ways to help prepare a child whose likely to suffer from homesickness. Plan a few sleepovers away from home so that your tween gets used to being away from you and the family before he goes. Also, be positive about the experience and all that he'll learn while he's away. Letters from home are also a great way to keep in touch with a homesick child, just be careful what you write!

5
What to Pack for Summer Camp

Many summer camps provide a packing list. An 18-gallon plastic tote makes for a great suitcase. J. O'Donnell

Sunscreen, socks, bathing suit, etc. The list of what your child will need while away at summer camp will vary from camp to camp. But there are a few common items that every child will need while away from home. Be sure you follow camp rules about whether or not food, electronics or other items are allowed. Having items confiscated is a terrible way to begin a summer camp experience. Encourage your tween to pack his own things, so that he knows what he has with him.

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