It’s that time of the year – again. Summer camps! In our family they are a must. My husband and I both work full-time and we need to find activities that will engage our child throughout the summer. The good news is that there seems to be more and more choices every summer, the bad - the most popular camps fill up immediately.
Rather than join the frenzy of parents scrambling to get their kids into the best swim programs, or best dance program, or best soccer program (you get the gist), I thought I’d spend a little time looking for new programs that will be fun, educational and take my child outside her normal activity “comfort zone”.
These ideas may help you look outside the box, so look out for them in your communities.
- Geocaching. For those of you that have never come across geocaching, it’s a real-world, outdoor treasure hunt using GPS-enabled devices. We tried this as a family last weekend for the first time and we had a blast looking for hidden treasure boxes in one of our local parks. Now there are organizations that offer week-long camps that teach kids the basics of geocaching.
- Glee Club. Yes, Glee has been on the air for a few years now and it’s given summer camp organizers a new idea for choir-based/or band-based activities. Glee summer camps focus on the singing and dancing elements of the popular TV drama and, from what I hear, are drawing kids in their thousands back to singing. Singing is cool again!
- Farm and Animal Care Camps. Maybe not so new in some cities, but in ours, which is a large metropolitan city, farming and animal care camps are coming back in style. A good place to start may be your local SPCA – many of them offer summer camps for kids.
- Sleep-away Camps. Again, maybe not so new for some area. Those kids that are already in Girl Guides and Boy Scouts will already be taking advantage of this “leap for freedom”. Obviously, it’s a big decision when your child is mature enough to go away for several days and sleep away from the comforts of home. Kids who are ready for this relish the idea of having some independence.
- Field-trip Centered Camps. We forget to be tourists in our own cities. Summer camp organizers are cashing in on the opportunity to bring your kids on field trips in your own cities. Some of them are pretty cool. We have one in our city that gives kids access to all our museums and science, marine centers for a price much lower than going to each individually. Some of these camps even have campers create their own guidebooks by week’s end.
- Museum-based Camps. If your kid is particularly interested in one area, such as science or natural history, look into their summer camps. Many of them offer dedicated programs for kids. Some of them even offer a one-night sleepover. A night at the museum!
- Adventure Camps. The outdoor corporate team building activities of zip-lining, climbing poles, rafting and walking high ropes have now expanded to children’s summer camps. We have seen communities offer everything from rock climbing (indoor and outdoor), skate and skateboard X-games, ATV and Quad riding, mountain boarding, archery and rifelry - even bungee jumping.
- Heritage Camps. These may be camps that are more established in your area, but that you’ve not had a chance to look into? Some heritage sites offer camps at which kids learn how people used to live and about the history of your area. This could range from Native camps, such as overnight stays in a Big House, or early settler sites. In our area, our daughter had a chance to go to the Big House to learn about the local Native Band’s culture, art, food and language. She came back full of great stories and the proud owner of a new name: “Fire”.