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What type of camp will your child like?

When I was younger, I only had one choice for summer camp – the town camp. The town camp was a traditional six-hour camp with a heavy emphasis on sports. I was more of a bookworm than an athlete, so this type of camp was not a good match for my personality. I remember coming home every day whining to my mom, “it was so hot and all we did was play (fill in a sport). Do I have to go to camp tomorrow?” By the end of the summer, I’m sure my mom wished there were other options for me.

Now there are so many choices, it can be overwhelming to figure out what type of camp would be a good fit for your child. Hopefully, the following options will help you to match your child with the correct camp so you hear “camp was so much fun today!” instead of what my poor mother dealt with daily.


Traditional Day Camp

A traditional recreation day camp is usually six hours (half-day options may be available) and typically offer a variety of activities such as sports, swimming, art, and music. These camps are located at recreation centers, public schools, or private settings. 


Is this a good fit for your child?

Most of the activities tend to be outside, so if your child loves the outdoors and playing sports or team-building activities, then this would be a good type of camp for them. Since there are usually a variety of activities, this would also be a good fit for a child that likes to try different things.


Sports Camp

Specialty sports camps usually are one sport – such as baseball or soccer – that the child plays either for three or six hours. You’d be surprised how many sports options there are for camps; options include climbing, sailing, tennis, golf and more! 


Is this a good fit for your child?

If your child loves a specific sport and would like to improve their skills, this would be a great option. This is probably not the best option for kids who aren’t already very interested in their sport of choice. 


Arts Camps

Specialty art, dance or drama camps focus solely on the arts. Theater and dance camps typically showcase a production at the end of the camp, whereas in an art camp a child will probably use a variety of art mediums like painting or drawing to produce several works over the course of the week (or weeks). 


Is this a good fit for your child?

If your child is creative but doesn’t get much exposure to arts programming through school, these camps are certainly worth looking into. This is a great way to get exposure to a different creative pursuit or to increase depth of knowledge in a medium of choice. 


Educational/Skill-Based Camp

An educational camp focuses on learning a new skill or increasing understanding in a particular subject (like math, language or reading). Since it is camp and not school, these types of camps tend to be hands-on with more of an emphasis on fun. 

 Is this a good fit for your child?

If your child is interested in learning a new skill which isn’t readily available at school, such as programming or speaking Spanish, this could be a great option. This is also a potential choice for kids who need to spend a little more time catching up on academic skills to reach grade level during the following school year (but you might want to balance this with some more recreation-focused programming later in the summer). 


Sleepaway Camp

Overnight camp is when your child lives at the camp for either a week or longer period. There are Scouts Canada/Girl Guides of Canada camps and private overnight camps. These camps tend to be very wilderness-oriented and offer activity options such as sailing, boating, archery, horseback riding, and other activities that may not be available close to your home. Many overnight camps have a strong religious affiliation, so make sure you research your camp of choice carefully to ensure that it will meet your family’s needs. 


Is this a good fit for your child?

An overnight camp gives your child the chance to spend time learning how to socialize, work as a team, and increase their confidence in a setting away from home. Overnight camp is a formative experience in the lives of many children and gives them the chance to unplug and learn about themselves. Make sure your child is old enough that homesickness won’t hold them back. 

Have a great summer and happy camping! 


Cheryl holds a Master of Counseling Psychology degree. She is married and is the mother of twins and a daughter. Her writing has been published in The New York Times, Parents Magazine, AARP, Healthline, Your Teen Magazine, and many other publications. She is a professional member of ASJA. You can find her at Twitter @CherylMaguire05.


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