10 Questions to Ask Before Sending Your Kid to Camp
Sending your child to summer camp may feel like one of the best decisions you’ve made as a parent. Indeed, the right summer camp can help your son or daughter forge lifelong skills, all while having fun with friends.
Before you sign your child up for a summer program, however, there are a few questions you should be asking. After all, summer camp is a big step—for both campers and their parents!
Your answers to these questions can help you make the best decision about sending your kids to camp.
Should I Enroll My Child in a Day or Overnight Program?
Summer camps are as diverse as their participants. There are day-only programs and traditional sleepaway experiences, academic programs, and adventure camps. Your range of options may feel overwhelming, especially if you aren’t confined to one specific geography.
Younger campers may struggle with homesickness, especially if they find it difficult to forge new friendships in unfamiliar settings. For these campers, day-only programs may be ideal. These give participants a taste of camp life like an overnight camp with the comfort of home at the end of each day.
On the other hand, an overnight program can help your child develop valuable social skills and independence. At Pali Adventures, for example, our overnight campers sleep dorm-style, eat delicious food on-premises, and participate in activities under the guidance of skilled counselors and instructors.
We find that such an immersive, supportive setting is ideal for all participants, but especially those who have not been away from home before.
Does My Child Want a Traditional or Specialty Camp?
Traditional summer camps are exactly what they sound like: programs that unite campers in one beautiful locale and offer a range of activities for participants. Such camps are often overnight, co-ed programs designed to simply bring kids together to have some organized fun.
Specialty camps, on the other hand, often have a targeted focus. You may enroll your child in a summer program that focuses on dance, for example. Or you may explore sports, engineering, or art camps.
Both specialty and traditional camps have a common purpose. They give campers an opportunity to make new friends, experience a new location, and have fun! But they can impart very different skills. Consider the type of experience that suits your child’s summer schedule and needs as you browse options.
Does My Camper Have Any Special Needs?
Not all summer camp programs can accommodate special needs such as food allergies, disabilities, and other social preferences.
As you consider various camps, ask program directors about their ability to meet your child’s specific needs. Communicating these needs up front, prior to enrollment, ensures a seamless camp experience.
What Is the Background and Experience of Camp Staff?
The mentors and instructors of any summer camp deeply inform the lives of participants, even if they only engage with campers for a short period of time. If you have a few programs on your list at this point, find out more about the adults your child will be interacting with.
At Pali Adventures, for example, all of our specialty camp counselors are well-versed in their fields, offering participants a rare opportunity to learn from real-life experts. Many of our counselors are graduates of our Counselors-in-Training program, a two-week intensive camp that prepares participants for being supportive leaders.
What Does My Child Want to Get Out of Summer Camp?
At the end of the day, this summer camp is about your child! Take some time to ask your son or daughter what they want to get out of their summer program. Most children want to have fun, naturally, but you may be surprised by what else your child shares.
Some may jump at an opportunity to hone their DJ skills, for example, or get a taste of extreme adventure in the company of good friends. Others may simply want to make new friends or experience their first overnight camp.
Check in with your child regularly as you consider programs together. We find that the most memorable camp experiences occur when both camper and parent are on-board!
What Is My Child Most Passionate About?
Summer camps can help your child delve deeper into specific hobbies and passions, and often in a way that is simply unavailable to them at school or home. Pali Adventures’ specialty programs, for example, enable campers to work side-by-side with industry experts, whether they are whirling across a real dance studio floor or learning about flight dynamics.
A summer program that ignites and fuels your child’s passions can be, quite simply, life-changing. It can open the doors to potential career paths, which can never happen too early. It can also grant your child the freedom to simply explore what they love, which is essential for self-development.
What Does a Typical Day at Camp Look Like?
Every summer camp program will have a different schedule. Some are more rigorous, while others give campers a bit more independence with their time. As you seek out reputable programs, consider a day-in-the-life for your camper.
What time do participants go to bed? Where do they sleep, eat, and gather for group activities? Will there be any downtime? Who monitors and supervises activities?
Camps can look great on the outside, but your camper’s daily experience is what ultimately matters. Choose programs with well-organized, well-supervised schedules, and prioritize ones that put the emphasis on the camper.
Is It Worth the Investment?
Only you can answer this question, as every parent has a different sense of value. In general, however, a summer camp program will be worth the investment if it offers a distinctly memorable, positive, and transformative experience for campers.
If you’re still on the fence, inspect past camper and parent testimonials for specific programs.
How Can I Prepare My Child for Being Away From Home?
Being away from home for the first time and/or for an extended period is a milestone. In fact, it can be challenging for campers and parents!
Talk about what summer camp is going to be like, and talk about it often. Together, identify tools that can help your child if they are experiencing homesickness. Choose programs like Pali Adventures with support networks for first-time campers.
How Can This Help My Child’s Future?
Summer is a valuable time for self-growth and exploration. If used wisely, this break from school can help your child deepen connections, pursue passions, and solidify the learning they’ve acquired in the past year. Think about how a given program can help your child’s future with respect to learning, careers, and social skills.
Your Child’s Summer Camp Program
The questions in this list can help you narrow down your child’s summer camp options and choose the program suited to your son or daughter’s specific needs. Asking them now can ensure a worthwhile investment in your child’s future!
Here at Pali Adventures, we’re happy to walk you through any of these questions at any time. Click the chat in the bottom right-hand corner of your screen to start.