Tips to Help Your Children Maximize Their Summer Camp Experience


Water sports at Summer Camp

Water sports at Summer Camp

Do you remember the first time you went to camp? How old were you when your parents left you to fend for yourself, among a group of other kids your size and older?

If you were like many kids away from home in a cabin, you probably thought you were in another world that was both scary and exciting. Camping as a family outing is almost unheard of to most kids these days, and summer camp is often as close as they get to real camping.

My niece's son, Noah, who is 9 years old, recently went to STEAM Summer Camps—it was a week at a nearby lake camp with other kids from the area. One thing they asked the parents to do was to provide handwritten notes that could be given to each child each day. This would ensure the camper heard from a parent or family member every day, and let them know that they were missed.

Children will usually take summer camp one way or another: they either love it or hate it. The younger a child starts to attend camp, the better the chances are that it will be enjoyable for them. When a young person gets to the tweens or teens, they become set in what they think is entertainment, and camping can be the least appealing of the choices they would make. In the case of Noah, he loved it!

It helps when children are able to make friends fast when they are at camp. On the first trip, there is a possibility that almost every child will be a stranger to them, and even when they go every year, there is no guarantee that they will see the same groups of people on any visit. Probably the most important lesson at camp is to relate to new people and get along harmoniously. Parents can make this an exciting part of camp for their child, and make it a game for them to learn as much about the other kids in their group.

Some parents depend on camp to teach their children some structure for their lives, and it is a good way to instill basic disciplines of doing things on time and following orders, while enjoying themselves at the same time. The difference from discipline in school and camp is the fun factor, and the fact that Mom and Dad aren't in the picture. I have found that kids can be totally different—usually in a good way—when they are on their own, and away from familiar environments.

There's something very special about campfires and telling stories, singing, and just getting to know the people you might not see again after camp. Being away from television, video games, phones and all the other kinds of manufactured entertainment gives children an opportunity to be creative, and talk and learn more from other people. What contributes even more is if the camp policy is for no cell phones or at least limited use, so that the separation from the outside world is more complete.

Sleeping in a cabin with several other individuals is another learning experience as kids learn to respect others' values and habits. Some children come from homes where they don't have to share space with anyone else, and living in an environment where the opposite is true helps prepare them for life beyond their personal area at home.

Another thing to bring kids to the realization of important of respect for others is the bathroom setup. Most often, there is a separate washroom and shower area where they must not only leave their cabin, but must plan when they are going to go to allow for other people using the facilities. And they will have some fun with that too—Noah came back saying that boys were messy and stinky!

Not every summer camp is the same, but they all have similar activities, many of which concern water sports, such as swimming and boating. It is always best to teach a child to swim before they attend camp, but it is not a requirement. Counselors are versed in helping kids to learn swimming, but they are also in charge of many kids, making it an inconvenience to spend much time one on one with any single person.

Areas are usually roped off for swimming to prevent boats and personal water craft from coming too close and causing a hazard. Children who can't swim have places in the water that are shallow enough for them to play safely under close supervision. There are some tips here on keeping children safe during water sport activities.

Water skiing and wakeboarding are two of the highlights for water recreation at camp, but other kinds of towables furnish fun for children of all ages. Because there are so many kids wanting to ride and limited powerboats to pull them, some of the favorite types of towables are the banana or hot dog style water toys, where several kids can ride at the same time.

Every summer camp at the lake or beach usually has a floating island or water trampoline where kids can bounce and jump, or go down an attached slide. This gives more children an opportunity to enjoy the water without waiting in line to be towed by the boats. They can work off a lot of energy on these water bouncers, and stay cool at the same time.

Because group activities, both in the water and out, are what most summer camps exemplify, most children get an education and experience they would never hope to find anywhere else in life. Although all those experiences will not be fondly remembered by every participant, the overall picture that children receive from their brief time camping is often a good and healthy one.

About the Author

Jane Warren is an outdoor enthusiast who enjoys swimming, boating, and other water sports. She developed her love for the open water as a child, when she was able to attend summer camps that encouraged participation in watersport activities.
Because of her interest in water sports, Jane started the website, where she provides information and reviews on brands of inflatable water toys, such as Airhead and Sportsstuff. The water toys include tube towables, kayaks, canoes, water skis, wakeboards, water trampolines, and related sport accessories.
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An active part of the Mom It Forward team, Jyl primarily writes about parenting, social good, and all things travel related. In a past life, Jyl was an award-winning copywriter and designer of corporate training programs for Fortune 100 companies. Offline, Jyl is married to @TroyPattee; a mom to two teen boys and a beagle named #Hashtag; loves large amounts of cheese, dancing, and traveling; and lives in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Topping her bucket list is the goal to visit 50 countries by the time she's 50.


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