So you’re thinking about sending your child to camp, but you don’t quite know where to start. Why not get your questions answered by attending Our Kids Magazine’s 20th Annual Camp Fair? The event takes place February 28th, 2016 at the San Antonio Shrine Auditorium, 901 N. Loop 1604 W., from 1 to 4 p.m.
Parents who attended camp in their youth are familiar with traditional settings that feature classic outdoor activities like campfires, swimming, horseback riding and kayaking. These getaways are still very popular. But today’s camps offer more exciting options for your child than ever before!
Camps are currently available for children ages 2-17. Start planning now and get your child involved with the decision as much as possible. In this way, your child will be able to fully appreciate and look forward to the experience. Popular camps get filled very quickly, so the sooner you select one, the better your chances are.
Ask your child what kinds of pursuits he or she would be most interested in when considering camp activities. In addition to more familiar interests, don’t forget to also ask whether there are any new skills your child might want to consider learning.
Has your child shown interest in particular sports, like golf, basketball or tennis? If so, many specialty camps are designed to cater to these specific activities.
In addition, specialty camps can feature art, music, theatre, science, nature, or computer technology as the main focus. Academic, leadership and career-focused camps are also available.
If your child has an adventurous streak, travel camps are designed with this in mind. Campers can enjoy mountain biking, canoeing, cave exploration, rope courses and zip-lining, among other exciting ventures. Travel camps may also include travel abroad.
Children with physical, mental or learning disabilities can attend various special-needs camps. Some focus on children with specific disabilities. Others blend interaction among children with and without special needs.
Preschool day camps are designed for children ages 2 to 4 1/2 years. If you are wondering about age-readiness for overnight camp, the answer largely depends upon your child’s level of independence.
Some children may not be comfortable going to an overnight camp and will be more suited to a day camp arrangement, especially younger age groups. By age 11, most kids are learning to be more self-reliant as they enter middle school. This is often the ideal age for children to attend camp for the first time.
Once you’ve chosen a few camps to consider, do your research and find a program that is a good fit for your child. It’s also a great idea to check parenting websites for camp reviews from other parents.
You should start by asking about the director’s background and experience, and the ratio of staff to campers.
Typically, recommended ratios are one staff member to every six campers ages 7-8; one staff member to every 10 campers ages 9-14; and one staff member for every 12 campers ages 15-17.
Check to ensure that staff members at specialty camps have a high level of training and expertise in their respective fields. Inquire as to hiring staff criteria, such as minimum age, level of experience and whether criminal background checks are performed.
Find out the camp’s philosophy (statement of goals) and decide whether it is compatible with your own parenting style. Review typical planned activities, daily schedules and age range of campers.
For outdoor or overnight camps, investigate safety records, ask what kind of security is available and look into whether any dangerous areas exist in the park. Ask about how medical care is handled, especially in emergency situations.
Be sure to verify tuition costs, and inquire about any hidden or additional expenses, and whether they have a refund policy.
Ask overnight camp staff about conditions of sleeping areas and bathrooms, as well as how homesickness is managed. For daytime camps, confirm camp hours, transportation/driver experience, and whether lunch is provided.
Our Kids Camp Fair is an excellent opportunity for parents to meet representatives from camps, summer programs, schools and childcare providers throughout the city and surrounding areas. You won’t want to miss this chance to explore so many wonderful camp options for your child. You’ll be glad you did!
Yvonne Vasquez is a freelance writer who has written for various companies in the San Antonio area for the past twenty-five years. Yvonne has one son, Eric (24), and is a San Antonio native.
Staying in Touch With Your Child at Camp
By Yvonne Vasquez
Writing to your child while he or she is at camp gives them a chance to develop creative language skills and lets them know you care.
Give your child a supply of pre-addressed envelopes, postcards and stamps to help them easily keep in touch by mail.
Send your child an encouraging letter before she leaves so that it is waiting for her when she arrives. Take care not to emphasize how much the child might be missing home.
Your questions should be simple for your child to answer. Don’t be surprised if your child’s letters or comments are brief and/or infrequent. Mail can also take a little longer than normal to reach you from camp.
Some camps do have limited email service available. Usually, campers can only receive email, not send out messages. Other camps will even upload photos to a camp website for viewing by parents.
Make sure you review the camp’s rules, as care packages may not be allowed. If packages are acceptable, food is often not allowed. Books, magazines, stickers, puzzles and games are generally acceptable at many camps.
Sometimes parents can be distressed by a “homesick” letter. Your response should be sympathetic but focus on the positive aspects of the experience. Remind your child that often these are temporary feelings, but if these letters continue or appear serious, contact the camp director.
Keep in mind that many camps do not allow children to have cellular phones. It can take some getting used to, but remember that it won’t last forever and your child will have a better camp experience without the distraction of a phone.