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HIGH FIVE FOR SUMMER CAMP!

WORDS:  Vince Colonneso

School will be out before you know it, and it’s important to go ahead and start to plan your family’s summer schedule! Have you ever enrolled your kids in a summer camp? Are you thinking that this is the year they will start to show interest in a program? Either way, now is a great time to explore your options; here are five things to consider when enrolling your kids in a Summer Camp.

1) Timing: Creating a plan throughout the school year is always essential and shouldn’t take a break for the summer! To optimize your child’s summer camp experience, make sure you’ve made arrangements for pick-up or drop-off. Also, it is important to check and see if the camp dates will interfere with any vacation plans or important family functions like weddings, anniversaries, reunions etc.

2) What to bring: When registering your child for camp be sure to inquire about any supplies that are required so that your camper has a comfortable outing. If it’s an outdoor camp, make sure they have sunscreen and a hat. If the camp will last a good part of the day, make sure they pack a lunch or snack.  Also make sure to inquire if food will be provided (this is a must for any campers with food allergies). Little things like these can make your child’s experience at camp less stressful.

3) Fees: The cost to send your little ones to camp is important to consider when family budgets can be tight between trips, every day activities, and increased grocery bills with the kids being home more. If the camp is all day you might want to inquire if there is a half day option that better fits your budget. On the other hand, if the camp is only a half day, inquiring into wrap around care might be beneficial if you are unable to leave work for pick-up.

Some camps last each week of summer break but you should consider weekly options if there are certain weeks that fit better with your schedule.  No matter what camp format you choose, full day, half day or the entire summer, make sure any fees are inclusive of any materials/food/equipment etc. that are needed for a positive camp experience.

4) Child’s Interest:  Do you have a budding athlete? Do you have a future artist or engineer? If so, matching your child’s talents and interests to a summer camp provides the opportunity for bringing out their hidden talents. If your child is interested in a particular sport, see if a local sports team is sponsoring a camp. Minor league baseball teams as well as some high school sports teams offer camps to future all-stars. If sports aren’t for your child, see if a local college, museums, or Parks & Recreation is sponsoring any camps that might fit your child’s interest.

5) Duration: Camp can be a stressful time for both parents and kids. Make sure you check into the duration of any camp, are there any overnight stays involved, will it be for a full day or half day? Based on the length of camp also make sure it is age appropriate, some younger campers might not be ready to spend an overnight stay away from their parents just yet.

Summer camp should be a time of fun experiences, learning, and excitement for kids. Families can make this a reality with a little research and I hope these pointers make the decision a bit easier!

  • Vince Colonneso is a father of three and Manatee County Native. He is a graduate of the University of South Florida and Saint Leo University Master’s Program. He is a contributor to funlearninglife.com and is a Decision Support Director of the West Florida Division of HCA Healthcare System.

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