Maybe you went to summer camp as a child and loved it; or maybe you went and hated it. Either way, it can be difficult to know when and if you should send your children to summer camp. Here is a list of summer camp pros and cons to help you in your decision.
* Independence – Summer camps may help kids learn to be independent. This is true whether it’s a day camp or overnight camp, but more independence is likely to be fostered at an overnight venture. So it depends on the degree to which you think your child can handle being away, and how much you think independence is needed. If you think your child might benefit from striking out on his or her own for a bit, then this is something to consider.
* Learning opportunities – While it’s true that some kids need a break from the stress and focus of school work, summer camps can offer learning opportunities that are “sneakier.” In other words, it doesn’t have to feel like learning. Because education covers so much more than book learning, summer camps are educational; whether it’s learning to care for farm animals, playing musical instruments, or learning a sport, summer camp expands your child’s horizons.
* Pursuing an interest – Summer camps can provide your child with the opportunity to pursue one of his or her interests in depth. This is particularly true if your child’s interest is not covered in the everyday school curriculum, or is only lightly covered. Subjects like music, drama, fine art, animal husbandry, etc. are areas that may be overlooked in schools but are still subjects of interest.
* Structure – Of course, sometimes structure is a pro. But for some families, too much structure is a problem. They want their kids to have time for free play, which is considered by psychologists to be an important part of childhood development. So the structured environment of summer camp may be a con for your kids.
* Homesickness – You may find that your children really suffer from homesickness. While fostering independence is a good thing, excessive homesickness doesn’t benefit anyone. Summer camps can certainly induce homesickness in certain kids, so if you think this describes your child, then this is a con to consider.
* Influence – During the school year, children are influenced by so many factors outside the family. Putting them in summer camp means that, once again, they are away from the influence and teaching of the family. This can be a con for parents who want to spend more time with their kids and participate more in their upbringing and education.
There are many types of summer camps so look into some options, talk to your child; and make a decision. You aren’t locked into the same decision for the next 12 summers; you can change summer camps each year or take a time off.