Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Pink Summer - Tips for A Summer Day Camp Experience Your Kids Will Love

Time seems to speed up when the weather is nice.  As we all begin to clean up our yards, go for lengthy walks in the park, and tune up our bikes, it's also time to start thinking about summer camp and our kids.  My kids will be attending a variety of camps this summer, and like all parents we want to make sure that it's a fun and enriching experience.  It can be difficult to know where to get started, but these tips can help you and your children prepare for an amazing summer. This blog post was sponsored* by True North Sports Camps, offering sports programs for kids aged 4-14 in Toronto, Etobicoke, Hamilton, Markham, and Whitby.

11 Tips For A Summer Camp Experience Your Kids Will Love

True North Sports
Image Courtesy of True North Sports

Set Your Budget

It's best to determine your summer long budget for child care (and family vacations) before looking into camps.  Prices can vary, but don't forget weeks at pricier camps can be balanced out by other weeks with a local sitter or at camps that are less expensive.  Pricier camps often have discounted rates for weeks that include long weekends, which is a great way to cut costs on a camp that is considered a splurge.  Some camps will require deposits (or payment in full) upon registration, so be sure to include this in your budget process.  Remember camp hours vary, and although some camps offer extended hours this may come at an additional cost.

Let Them In On The Decision Making Process

Not sure what to talk about around the dinner table?  Connect with your kids on things they've always wanted to try, favourite extra-curricular activities, and camps their friends have been raving about, along with recommendations from other parents.  Use this information to research camps within your price range and let your kids a vote from your short-listed camps.

Include Their Friends

Another friendly face or two can help relieve any stress your child may be feeling about going to a new camp.  Most camps are quite accommodating and will even make sure your child is placed in a group with their friend or sibling, provided they are both in the same age group, if you just ask.

Figure Out the Logistics Ahead of Time

You can either search for camps close to your home, or your place of employment for easy drop off.  You can also talk to your employer about working some flexible hours or remotely some days if your child is attending a camp that is going to add significant time and effort to your parental commute.  You can also arrange car pooling with other parents to help share some of the driving.

Image Courtesy of True North Sports

Mix It Up Over The Summer

The expression variety is the spice of life comes to mind here.  Whether your child is a future varsity athlete, avid crafter, or STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). wiz, consider camp as a fun way to allow them to expand their horizons.  While routine can be fantastic, a few days, or weeks trying something new can be a great, low commitment way for your children to discover a new passion, or rule out an activity they thought they'd love but don't.

Cross Your T's and Dot Your I's 

Parents, here's where you do your homework to make sure the camp meets appropriate local health and safety records.  Read testimony and reviews online, and talk to other parents to determine if the camp meets your standards.  Raise any concerns you have about the camp with the facility before registration.

Before The First Day

Connect with the camp to find out any supplies that will be necessary each day.  This could include:  packed lunches, water bottles, sun screen, a change of clothes, or swim suit for particular days of the program.  Don't forget to inform the camp about any special needs, food allergies, or any other 'need to know' information about your kiddo.  If your child will be required to put on their own sunscreen each day, make sure you teach them how to do so for proper coverage from the sun.

Image Courtesy of Mom Loves Best

The Week Before

Have your kid help you pick out special snacks and items for their lunches that will help them get excited about their time at camp. Something as simple as a nice lunch or a nice sun hat can help your child feel fantastic on their first day. Remember in summer months kids lunches may get warm, so use ice packs if necessary, or put some ice in their water bottle to help cool the rest of their food.

The First Day

Arrive a few minutes early to help your child get settled in.  Introduce yourself and your child to their instructor.  They may be nervous at first, but camp directors are trained to help your child feel welcome. Give them a chance to acclimatize to their new camp, this may take a while, and although it may be tempting to hover a while, they'll likely do better once you leave.

Offer A Treat

Going out for an ice cream after dinner, or having a picnic together after the first day of camp can be a fantastic way to connect with your child and find out how it's going.

Give Feedback

Camps can only improve their programs with the feedback from kids and parents.  Fill out online surveys about how things went and provide detailed comments.  If one of the counsellors go the extra mile for your kid, be sure to thank them, and let their boss know that they have a super star on their hands.  Positive feedback is just as important as the negative stuff!

*This is a sponsored blog post, however all opinions and commentary are my own.

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