Summer camp programs - What more to consider!

There is great diversity in residential summer camp programs, ranging from the ever-popular traditional camping programs to specialty camps whose programs focus on a particular interest, (the many types of sports camps, academic camps, arts camps, and special needs camps are all examples.) In the mix, there is also an increased interest in teen wilderness camps and travel and trip camp programs. If you find a camp program that you like first glance, is that all you need to consider?

Heck no!

Why? Because each one of these camps has its' own philosophy. Before signing up, make sure you and your child, like, both the camp's program and the philosophy behind it. Here are some important factors to consider.

Important programs considerations:

Is the camp program competitive?
Some camp programs value competition, other camp programs do not; many camps fit somewhere in between.

This is particularly true in specialty camps such as horseback riding camp. Traditional camp programs may also promote either a competitive or non-competitive spirit.

What's the Difference? A camp that promotes competition may believe that winning and losing are important life lessons that shape a child's self esteem; a non-competitive camp program is the opposite. A non-competitive program will in all likelyhood not not focus on activities that promote winning and losing; instead, the program will focus on team building activities, gaining skills, confidence, and having fun.
Considerations:If you and your child like a particular program, talk to the director and find out about its' competitiveness. See if it's the right one for your child.

Is the summer program structured?
Some camps promote structured programs, others camps promote non-structured programs, some camps fall somewhere in between.

What's the Difference?
A structured camp program will have activities planned out and scheduled ahead of time.
Pros: Kids don't need to worry about scheduling activites and know what to expect ahead of time. Structured camp programs can also get kids to try new activities.
Cons: Kids may not get to do their favorite activities as much as they want. They will also be with the same kids all day long.
A non-structured camp program is the opposite. These camps allow complete freedom in scheduling.
Pros: Kids can plan and schedule their favorite activities daily, (which can also be quite fun). Also, campers get to spend time with different children and staff at the different activities.
Cons: Some campers can get overwhelmed with so much choice. Also, along with scheduling freedom, an unmotivated camper might not shedule and participate in activities (as well kids may not try new activities).
Considerations: Each program has pros and cons. It just depends on you, your child, and what you both think is best. For older campers less structure may be preferable. For younger campers, structure may be better. Many tradtional summer camps offer a middle ground.


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