It’s a familiar parenthood paradox – after the first warm days, kids count the days to summer break. But, around June15, boredom begins. I mean, how many times can you sing along with the Sponge Bob, Square Pants theme song without going up the wall? Whether you’re a stay-at-home parent or work full time, take advantage of the variety of day camps in our region to help prevent summer stagnation. Here are a few things to consider when choosing sumer camps for your kids.
Summer Camps Tip #1: Interests
Choose camps of interest to your child. If your kid is outdoorsy and doesn’t mind getting dirty, Camp Maranatha in Guntersville and Pine Ridge Day Camp in Somerville are great. Both provide round-trip buses from Huntsville and Madison to their location.
Dirty disclaimer: I have literally thrown t-shirts and socks away after my son’s adventures in the woods. No amount of stain remover and laundry detergent could have helped!
The kiddo tends to come home cleaner but equally eager to share about his experiences.
Summer Camps Tip #2: Friends
Meeting new friends is an adventure in itself. Unless your child insists on registering alongside a friend or sibling, don’t worry too much about sending him or her solo. A few times I’ve dropped my son off and worried because it seemed like all the other kids knew each other.
Every time I’ve been proven wrong. He cannot wait to tell me about all of his new friends at the end of every day. Last summer he attended Camp Invention in his own school district, and this year we intentionally chose a Camp Invention location in another school district to meet new friends. [spacer size=”0″]
Summer Camps Tip #3: Money
Don’t go broke. Some day camps offer half-day options, and Vacation Bible School is free! Library reading programs are also a great option. For camps that charge, you can deduct the cost as a childcare expense on your income taxes.
Summer Camps Tip #4: Planning
Start planning yesterday! Filling your child’s calendar with a variety of day camps is time consuming, and some fill up quickly. Organize your thoughts, get your dates together on one calendar and don’t wait until the last minute to register.
New for us this summer is a week of Aviation Challenge at U.S. Space & Rocket Center, and due to its popularity, I registered him as soon as possible.
Our Camp Experience
For our both-parents-work family, this will be the third summer our son has hopped from day camp to day camp with a few breaks for vacations and visiting grandparents. Based on last summer’s experience, the one he’s most looking forward to is WinShape.
I freely admit that it would be simpler and probably more cost effective to enroll him in a consistent summer program that meets at the same place every day, but the benefits we’ve noticed are invaluable: the learning opportunities are endless, the variety of experiences builds confidence and getting back into the familiar school routine is something we all look forward to.
Note: The camps mentioned here ones that our family has experienced. There are so many more! Rocket City Mom has compiled a good list of options categorized by Arts, Education, General and Sports/Fitness. Ready … Set … Register!
About the Author
Pam Sparks wanted to relocate to the Tennessee Valley when she graduated from the University of Alabama in 1996. Three moves — first to East Tennessee, back to Tuscaloosa, then all the way to East Texas — and she finally made it to Madison in 2006. Pam has been in health care marketing and public relations for more than 10 years and wants to retire from Huntsville Hospital. She loves the responsibilities and challenges of her career and active volunteer schedule, and her proudest accomplishment is when she manages to get her son “Speedy” to baseball practice on time. Always up for a new challenge, her dream is to be a competitor on the Amazing Race!