Should Your Tween Attend a Co-ed Camp?

Three children with camp counsellor preparing for campfire
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There's a lot to consider when choosing a summer camp program for your tween. Parents need to think about location, cost, camp amenities, camp staff, safety, as well as the activities your child will do while away at camp. Parents should also consider whether a co-ed camp is the right choice for their tween. Before you decide to send your tween to a co-ed camp, or rule out co-ed camps altogether, you should consider the following.

The Pros and Cons of Co-ed Camps

Many parents choose to send their preteens to single sex camps. The reason is that preteens can be very self-conscious and unsure about themselves while in the presence of the opposite sex, and single sex camps give them an opportunity to explore and grow without having to worry about how they might appear to others. Also, preteens often juggle the challenges that come with puberty, and single sex camps may make those challenges a little easier to deal with.

Other parents choose co-ed camps as a way to help their child learn how to socialize with the other sex, and develop healthy friendships with them. These parents think that a co-ed camp will help prepare their child for the transition into adolescence and the realities of middle and high school.

But there are other considerations. Parents of both boys and girls may want to send their children to the same camp, to take advantage of reduced tuition, and to make summer planning a bit easier.

In addition, many camps don't offer a choice, they're co-ed or single sex, and that's that.

So, how do you decide if your child should attend a co-ed camp? The first step is to consider your child's personality and how he or she acts when members of the opposite sex are around. Is your child uneasy and shy, or boastful and overconfident?

Also, how does your child feel about attending a co-ed camp? Does it make her nervous and awkward, or is she excited about the idea? Also, has your child had unpleasant experiences with the opposite sex, such as bullying or sexual aggression? Knowing how your child feels when around the opposite sex is a major consideration before committing your child and your money to a co-ed camp.

Parents who are worried about sending a child to a co-ed camp should probably ask the camp director a few questions. Many co-ed camps have separate facilities for boys and girls, and the sexes may never even mingle while at camp. At other camps, boys and girls may only see each other at campfire or dinner. Be sure to ask the camp director how they handle potential issues, such as camp crushes, inappropriate behavior or other issues that might pop up when boys and girls are together at camp. Experienced camp staff members will be trained to handle these situations, or prevent them altogether.

In the end, whether or not to send a child to a co-ed camp may boil down to intuition.

If you, as a parent, feel your child will do fine in such a setting, then it should be a consideration. If you feel strongly that your child would benefit from attending a single sex camp, then that's the route you should follow.

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