Tips for Finding the Perfect Kids Summer Camp
By Holly Chavez –
You may not think so, but it’s also time to think about summer camp for your child. You may think it’s too early to start shopping around, but February and March is actually the best time to start thinking about summer camp options before the really good choices start to fill up.
Summer camps provide a fun outlet for your child to attend camp, and allow them to engage in fun activities with new friends. While it’s important for them to have a good time at camp this summer, it’s also important to consider that there are many youth camp volunteers looking to build a bond with them, also. Volunteers working at summer camps are looking to gain personal development and opportunities from the experience of a summer camp job. Volunteer-assisted summer camps help with this when they hire youths to work with them. Hiring a volunteer can also help stem rising costs at institutions and help them provide better quality services.
According to Points of Light, a volunteer organization, “Society is demanding much more from the world of volunteerism in the 21st century as a rapidly globalizing economy puts increasing pressure on governments, businesses, nonprofits and other institutions to do more with less.”1 Allforgood.org is an online hub that helps youths find volunteer opportunities such as openings for summer camp jobs. Also importantly, youths that use the hub http://allforgood.org/ to search and find volunteer opportunities help institutions save costs and allow them to keep providing quality services.
For the best experience for your eager camper, consider the following before enrolling them: 1) what type of camp do they want to go to, and 2) do you want to enroll them in a volunteer-assisted summer camp.
Your Child’s Interests
Your kid will have a better experience if you choose a summer camp that is best suited to their interests. If your kid is into baseball and soccer, it’s probably not a good idea to send them to a summer camp where most of the activities are focused on arts & crafts. Choose one they’ll enjoy, and they will cherish the memories for years. Sit down for a chat with them, and discuss what activities they are interested in seeing in the camp of their choice.
One of the better decisions you can make is to decide whether to enroll your kid in a volunteer-assisted summer camp. They are just as good as ones that don’t employ volunteers, and you can help the volunteer find an opportunity for personal advancement and career development by sending them to an organization that participates in hiring them.
The volunteers are trained to take great care of the children at the camps, and some even volunteer at camps where the children have disabilities or are ill with cancer. These type of jobs help youths develop good job skills that can often lead to a career at the place they are volunteering. An example of this is the Summer Camp Team Assistant Volunteers program at the San Antonio Zoo. If you send your child to a San Antonio Zoo day camp, you can provide a Summer Camp Team Assistant an opportunity for a chance to have a career with the zoo later. Volunteers must attend the program before they are considered for other opportunities at the zoo, such as the Youth Volunteer program or zoo internships.
Zoo Camps: San Antonio Zoo Day Camp
The San Antonio Zoo has been providing wonderful animal exhibits to the public since 1914. Summer camp offerings for 2014 at the San Antonio Zoo are going to be a blast this year because they are celebrating their 100th birthday.
The San Antonio Zoo Adventure Day camp is a wonderful type of camp if your child enjoys going to the zoo. Children going to this camp will get to take a close look at the zoo’s fuzzy and scaly residents while enjoying lots of fun activities. The Summer Camp Team Assistants make sure the kids get plenty of exercise through lots of fun activities, and answer all those important questions your child has about the animals.
Each week, nature-loving campers get to encounter animals and go on zoo tours. Where else will your kids get to look at lions, reptiles and elephants while they are at summer camp? The volunteers also help young campers with age-appropriate activities and games. They will also get to watch the Summer Camp Zoobilation parade during their summer camp session.
Session Dates and Fees
Adventure Day Camp is open for children ages 5-11. Registration begins February 1rst. Hours of operation are 9:30 am-4:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Costs for the 2014 session are as follows:
- Member: Early Bird $205/ After March 15th $230
- Nonmember: Early Bird $245/ After March 15th $270
There are several weekly sessions open for 2014 starting in the beginning of June and wrapping it up by the end of August.
Religious Camps: The United Methodist Church
The San Antonio Zoo may be a little too far for some of us to send our kids to summer camp, but many great summer camps can be found at local churches near you. Some organizations even bring summer camps and volunteers to your neighborhood church. One example of a good one is Grow Day Camp offered by the United Methodist Church (UMC).
UMC Grow Day Camp
The UMC launched the Day Camp program in 2008 in order to bring camp ministry to more families located in the North Georgia Conference of the UMC. The Day Camp program was later renamed the Grow Day Camp, and began acting as a standalone program in 2013. The UMC now teams up with children’s ministries to bring worship and fun activities to children who attend day camp. Grow Day camps have grown from one location in 2008 to 16 in ten districts in 2014 by using clusters of host churches.
An example of one of the host churches is the United Methodist Church in Dahlonega, Georgia. The church teaches skills and core values to day campers, and shows them how to understand scripture and how it relates to their everyday life. The UMC relies on many volunteers who return year after year to help with the events and activities of the summer camps.
The Grow Day camp offers several day camp activities including archery, belay tree climbing and nature study. The activities are designed to contribute to appreciation of all of God’s creations.
Session Dates and Fees
Grow Camp will begin registration in mid to late February for the 2014 year. The day camp is age-appropriate for rising First-Sixth graders. Hours of operation are from 8:30 am-5:00pm. Day camp runs Monday through Friday and the cost is $125 per camper.
Sports Camps: Nike Sports Camp/US Sports Camps (USSC)
If your kid loves to play sports, then the Nike Sports Camp is a good one for them to go to. The US Sports Camps (USSC) operates Nike Sports Camps, and it is the biggest sports camp network in the United States. In 2011, over 50,000 U.S. and international campers went to a U.S. Sports Camps program.
Signing up your little sports enthusiast for one of the 17 available sports on the USSC website is as easy as going to the webpage at http://www.ussportscamps.com/ and clicking a few buttons. There is a map on the site that you can click on to see if there is a sports camp in your area.
The site also lets you find out information about the camps by the type of sport your camper wants to play. Just click on the basketball icon, and it will give you a selection of day camps and overnight camps from several locations in the U.S.
Their high-level coaches teach your child how to play their favorite sports correctly and also give tips to improve their game. They do more than just improve the way that your child plays a game, though. They help them become a better team player and be more confident in their abilities overall.
Here’s an example of how the website works for your child if they want to go to Nike Sports Camp to play basketball and stay overnight: go to Select Your Sport and Click on the basketball icon-> Click the Nike Overnight Basketball Camps link-> Click Locations to see where the Nike Camps are located in the U.S. ->Click Schedules to see when the sessions are available. Select the month you want to send your child to overnight summer camp.
There are 17 different sports that you can choose from: soccer, football, baseball, volleyball, swimming and field hockey, to name a few.
Session Dates and Fees
The sessions start in June for the overnight basketball camp. An example of a session can be found for Nike Boys Basketball Sacred Heart University. The webpage may show registration is still open, but it is best to sign up early and get the required paperwork for the camp. This particular overnight camp is for boys only, and the session runs from June 22-24. They offer a complete basketball skills workshop during that session and the cost is $655.
Finding a Summer Camp Near You
Some of the summer camps listed here may not be close to where you live, but it gives you an idea of what kind of summer camps there are available for your child. For instance, you may not be near the San Antonio Zoo in Texas or the United Methodist Church in Dahlonega,Georgia, but your local zoo and churches will probably offer the same type of program or something similar. When you find the summer camp that fits your child’s interests, it’s important to visit it and check their references to make sure it lives up to the brochures and online testimonials.
About the Author:
Holly Chavez is a freelance author living in Atlanta who has a teenage son who loves going to summer camp. He is a true techie at heart and wants to go to one this year that can teach him to design and construct a Minecraft Mod. She hopes one day that her son will give back by volunteering for jobs that help the local community and lead to great personal achievement for him.
Ms. Jensen is a leading advocate for families and children and was the founder and president of ACES, The Association for Children for Enforcement of Support.
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