Day camps are an ideal childcare option for many parents once kids are out of school for the summer. Not only will your kids learn a variety of new skills and get plenty of exercise, they will build valuable social skills, spending their days having fun and learning with other kids their age.
And you don’t usually have to look far to find a camp that offers the right fit for you and your family – a quick Google search will likely yield a plethora of conveniently located day camps that specialize in all sorts of areas, from art and music to sports and recreation to education and technology.
To help you narrow down your options, here are a few tips designed to help you choose the right camp for your son or daughter this summer:
Location: Make getting to and from camp as easy as possible for you and your child. Consider a camp that isn’t too far away from your home or work, for ease of drop-off and pick up. If you commute to work, look for a camp location that is on (or at least near) your regular route to keep from over-complicating you and your family’s regular routine. Many camps also offer early drop-offs and late pick-up options to allow parents a bit of flexibility – fair warning though, check with the camp administrators first as some camps charge extra for this convenience.
Duration: Many camps offer both full-day and half-day options. Half-day camps can be a great option for very young children or for a child's first camp experience. They can also work well for children who don't like to be away from home.
Camp type: Ideally you’ll want to make sure that the camp you ultimately choose will have activities your little one will enjoy. After all, you want them to want to go to camp rather than having to fight to get them out of bed and out the door every morning, right?
Ask yourself some of these questions when trying to narrow down the type of camp your child will attend:
-Are you simply looking for childcare during the summer months, or are you hoping to help your child learn or refine a particular skill?
-Does your child want to hang out with friends or try something totally new?
-Do you want him/her to gain leadership skills or learn how to be a better team player?
-Does your child need to learn how to manage responsibilities or is he/she learning to be more independent?
Cost: While researching the cost of the camp program, be sure to figure out the total cost. Are there additional charges for some of the activities or field trips? Are you expected to provide additional equipment? Is lunch included, is that an extra cost or do you have to provide it yourself? What about snacks? What is the refund policy if your child gets sick? Is your camp registration fee eligible for a Federal Children’s Fitness or Arts tax credit?
Decision Time: Once you’ve narrowed down the options, ask for your child’s input in making the final choice. Involving children in the selection process is a great way to get them excited and looking forward to their summer camp adventure.
Dalplex, Dalhousie University's main fitness and recreation facility, has been proudly serving the community for over 30 years, offering a wide variety of fitness, wellness and recreation programs and classes for adults, children, youth and seniors. Visit their website or follow them on facebook.