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Tips for Choosing Summer Camps for Kids

Oh to be a child again!! How exciting to await summer holidays, a full two months, sometimes a little longer too! Some traditions never change, they only evolve, get better, and may even be cyclic in their nature of reviving forgotten camp ideas. With nuclear families and parents holding high-profile roles and job profiles, engaging children during their long breaks and vacations is always a challenge. Unlike a decade or two earlier, today kids as young as four and five are so vocal about their choices and options regarding everything big and small. With the internet and WhatsApp groups of friends and classes, every child is highly educated about summer holidays, summer camps, and what they may offer in terms of learning and entertainment. Folks who hail from the rural side of the country, and have relatives and homes there, use this time to take the kids back to their roots and give them a glimpse of the rustic lifestyle and simple games that keep them engaged for hours on end. It is also a time to travel across states or countries to visit cousins, and relatives and spend quality time bonding while exploring the new place, people, food, and environment. For those with none of these options in hand, the next best is the summer camp. Parents are spoilt for choice when it comes to the variety of camps on offer. Some are technical, some artistic, and plenty are related to adventure and outdoor activities. Camp organizers have moved over from hoardings, pamphlets, and notices to social media handles, the internet, and through the school administration. Here are some suggestions on zeroing in on a camp that your child will enjoy and be involved. 

How to choose the right camp for your child?

1. Age and maturity :

Summer camps are categorized based on age and class. Depending on the age group your child is in, pick one that may be closer home. Check if a transport facility will be provided. Also the duration of the camp and provisions for food and short breaks.

2. Decide on virtual camps, day camps, or overnight camps:

With multiple options, sit as a family and weigh the pros and cons of the camps. The virtual camp may have interesting programs, but it may again have the child glued to the screen. Beyond that, it may be a good start for a child who has never experienced a camp like this. Overnight camps are more for older children above 12 years and more. This age group will be independent enough to take care of their personal hygiene and be responsible for their belongings. Such camps will have adventure activities, trekking, and exploring the flora and fauna of deep woods and forests. A lot of fun and camaraderie happens in these units. Day camps are the 9-4 ones that are helpful for children with mild health issues or sleep problems. Also, it gives time for parents to take the kids out on drives or other fun outings to bond as a family.

3. Interests\ Set your expectations:

With one too many options, don’t get carried away by fancy advertisements or expensive rate cards. Keep your child’s interests as the prime focus. Do a thorough study of the camp organizers, their trainers, and the experience and expertise they bring to the table. Above all feel free to ask for references from previous participants\testimonials. Go online and read reviews. Check for infrastructure and facilities provided to make the camp a memorable and enjoyable one. If they offer baking and cookery sessions, do they have the needed gadgets and professionals who can be patient to take the child through the process in a fun way?

4. Philosophy\ Consider the camp setting, tone, and vibe.

Understand the ideology of the camp and the reputation it enjoys in the circuit. How effectively do they communicate their vision and their interactions with parents and children? You don’t want your child to be bruised by brash, insensitive trainers and organizers who see their role as a business and not a commitment.

5. Safety and Supervision:

The most important pointer to keep in mind. Assess the safety measures in place, especially if it is an outdoor camp, with overnight or longer duration of it. What are the features highlighted for supervision and safety, and have contact details of all people in charge of the camp? Do not hesitate to ask questions, show up at the camp (more so if the child is a toddler), or voice your opinion when you feel something amiss.   

What are the benefits of participating in these summer camps? 

Isn’t it strange that as human beings, we are wired to look for benefits or from the utilitarian aspect of any work undertaken? To be honest, mindfulness practitioners and emotional intelligence coaches say it is good for the psyche to rest without agenda or guilt, at least once in a while. Having said that, as hard-earned money and precious hours are at stake, it is only fair to ask,’

How will my child benefit from these engagements?’

  1. Socialization: It is valuable for the child to acquire social skills at a young age. This is enhanced when the child is displaced from familiar surroundings and given a new space to interact and engage in. Over time, being comfortable in social gatherings and new places will become a part of their acquired skills.
  1. Development of life skills: Today, more than ever before, equipping a child with life skills is the need of the hour. This prepares them to be sensitive, empathetic, brave hearts, who are quick to sense trouble even before it brews in the vicinity. Becoming independent and capable of shouldering age-appropriate responsibilities becomes another advantage.
  2. Exposure to new experiences: Connecting with nature, time away from screens, and involving in fun and exciting activities keep the child active and agile. The camp creates interest and enrichment. It helps in relevant skill-building too.
  3. Unforgettable memories: Beyond everything, a bag full of memories and friends for life is made in most such camps and the child is rejuvenated to go back to the academic space with a stride in his walk and a lightness in his head.

The post-pandemic era has organically altered the outlook of parents with regard to the worldview and experiences their child would do better with. While schools offer enough space to acquire most of these experiences, isn’t it always fun to know you don’t have to study those two months and you can actually have fun, play mischief, and go home tired, without worrying about homework and pending projects for the next day?

Since schools too have opened their doors to the possibility of summer camps, there are many which offer niche choices, ranging from swimming, and horse riding to ISKCON-sponsored fun ways of understanding Bhagavad-Gita to Robotics and Coding. New Horizon Gurukul Pre-School is one such school, that delves into the relevance of these camps, and comes up with fun diverse programs. Each year a different set of activities, making it a surprise to bring newness and a fun element to the space.