Scheduling Summer Camp – Too Much or Too Little? 5 Considerations to Help You Find the Right Balance

School is almost out for the year. No more rushing around in the mornings, packing lunches, arranging carpools or cajoling your kids to do their homework, but wait…what are you going to do with them all summer? Maybe you have extensive vacation plans, or have kids who love to lounge around all day and can happily entertain themselves. For parents who work full-time summer camps may be their childcare option. But many parents are faced with an empty summer schedule wondering how to fill it. Here are 5 points to consider:

  1. Budget – Following a budget makes deciding how many summer camps to choose a fairly easy decision. (Sometimes it’s good to have boundaries). The only question becomes how to spend your allocated budget. Is 1 or 2 weeks at a high priced camp worth more than twice as many weeks at a lower priced camp?
  2. Friends’ Plans – Do your kids have a lot of friends who will be gone or otherwise occupied for the summer or do most of them have laid back summer plans and will likely be coming around asking your child to play with them? Will your kids miss out on casual play dates because they are over-scheduled? Or will they be bored because all of their friends are at camp or on vacation?
  3. Alternatives – If your kids are not in a camp, what will they be doing during the day? Are they avid readers and happy to entertain themselves all day? Or will they be watching TV, playing video games and whining about how bored they are? If the latter sounds like your child, explore camp options soon before your first choices are full.
  4. Exposure to Other Friends – Summer can be a great time for your kids to hang out with friends they don’t get to see during the school year. Meeting up with family friends, neighborhood pals and classmates from previous schools is sometimes a lower priority during a hectic school year. Signing up for a camp with a friend is a great way for the kids to reconnect and keep that friendship alive.
  5. Parental Talents – Think long, hard and honestly about your own willingness and ability to entertain your children throughout the day. Are you the type of parent who savors the thought of spending an idyllic summer hanging out with the kids and already has a plan of activities to keep them entertained? Or do you start having mild anxiety attacks in May when you realize there is only a month of school left? If you have more than one child, consider the interests of your children and how easy/difficult it will be to find common activities for everyone. Also think about the ages of your children. If you have a 7 year old who is full of energy is she better off at a summer camp or at home trying to stay quiet while her 2 year old brother takes a nap every afternoon?

Summer camps provide wonderful opportunities for fun, friendship and new opportunities. Think about the points above as you plan your summer. If you are unsure, half-day camps are a great way to go. Above all, try to create fond memories this summer for your children.