In today's world when a child is asked if he or she went to a camp over the summer, it is assumed the child went to a sports camp.
We've become a sports society that believes in order to be successful in sports -- or certainly improve as a player -- a summer camp daily routine must consist of the following: morning run, stretching, breakfast, sport-specific skill development, lunch, drills and game situations, dinner, and competitive games. And at the most exclusive camps, probably film study before lights out.
Whatever happened to canoeing, swimming, fishing, crabbing, arts and crafts, and campfire stories? A recent volunteer experience at a traditional summer camp reminded me that there is and should be more to a summer camp experience than the aforementioned drill sergeant-like agenda.
After having this experience, I am determined to make sure my sons are afforded the opportunity to attend a traditional camp each summer (and yes, probably at least one sports camp as well).
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Why write about this with the summer half over? Because now is the chance for you to search for next year's traditional summer camp. My guess is the sports camp you selected for your child this summer came as a result of hearing parents' good reviews and maybe even visiting the camp last summer before making the financial commitment. The same type of research should go into selecting a traditional summer camp.
And now after reading this you have the month of August to do so because usually the traditional summer camps go on throughout the summer -- many serve as childcare for working parents -- compared to sports camps which tend to wrap up by now so coaches can get set for fall practices to begin.
Do some research to find out where the traditional summer day and overnight camps are taking place in the coming weeks and plan to visit one or two that spark an interest. Don't forget to take your potential camper along with you. After all, they're the ones who will get dropped off next summer.
The good thing is that you won't have to make a financial commitment to a camp now. But remember, now is the only time before next summer you'll be able to visit and see "live" what your child can expect if he/she decides to attend next summer. Visiting the camp location in April when it's barren won't tell you (or your camper) nearly as much as dropping in now and seeing it full of happy kids.