A Great Alternative
Published: January 25, 2023
By: Sarah Lyons
Many parents want their kids to experience summer camps, but the idea of spending several nights away from home is a little scary for both the parent and child. A great alternative, especially for younger kids, is to send them to day camp.
Day camp, as the name implies, typically consists of a series of consecutive days where the child is away during the daytime hours. Children leave in the morning to have the camp experience and come home in the afternoon or evening to have dinner with their families and sleep in their own beds. Day camp gives kids many of the same learning experiences as a typical sleepover camp.
Here are some of the benefits:
Builds independence. Camp is a great place for kids to explore their own independence and day camp is no different. Kids are dropped off at camp in the morning where they are challenged with new activities that they may not get the opportunity to try at home. They will make friends, eat lunch, and follow directions without the help of their parents. Kids start to feel more self-confident and independent as the week goes on.
Learn new skills. Day camps typically offer opportunities to learn and grow in areas that children may not be exposed to at school. Kids can pick camps that tailor to their interest including a variety of sports, music, dance, theater, science, art, exploring nature, and more. If your child is drawn to a particular activity or subject, chances are there is a camp that would interest them. Kids who are not particularly drawn to academics will thrive in day camps because they are rewarded for their talents and interests.
Make new friends. While you may sign your child up for a camp with a friend, they will meet many new people their age. Children gain confidence as they learn to talk to and work with people that they have never played with previously. The opportunity to make friends with children that share similar interests, and a fun new experience helps kids feel more comfortable when they are in new situations.
Take a break from the screen. When children spend time at day camp, they get a much-needed break from screen time. As video games, apps, TV, and tablets take more and more of our free time, getting the kids outside to play or having fun while learning new skills is a priceless benefit to parents. Who knows? When the kids come home from camp, they may realize they don’t need as much screen time as they thought they did.
Lifelong skills. Day camp helps kids learn skills they can use for a lifetime including problem solving and leadership skills, improved confidence, and an openness to new things. Depending on the camp, they may learn other skills that will stick with them. My kids learned how to start a fire and cook their own meal at local scouting camps. My daughter gained the confidence to get on stage in front of a room full of parents and peers at theater camp. My kids improved their skills at sport camps, and they faced their fears while trying the camp obstacle course. These experiences will stay with your child throughout their life as they are faced with challenges and successes in the future.
As you are deciding if day camp is right for your family, consider what type of camp your child would be most interested in. Choose something that you know they will be successful at and consider inviting a friend to sign up with your child. This can make them more comfortable that first day. Let your child help you choose the right camp and then let them know you think they will do great.
Sarah Lyons is a freelance writer.