Q: [School-Aged] We are looking at camps for the summer. Some have sibling discounts, which has us wondering — is it a pro or con to send sibs to camp together? We don’t join up with other friends for camp because we like our child to branch out and make new friends and get a fresh perspective on life, but should that extend to picking different camps for our kids, too?
A: The question of whether to send siblings to the same camp is an interesting one and has a variety of considerations. If your camp of choice offers a sibling discount and it fits in your family budget, there is no harm in sending children together, especially if they have an independent relationship from one another. Similar to school, they will have the opportunity to form new friendships with the kids in their own age group while benefiting from the bond of a shared camp experience.
On the other hand, if your children are overly dependent upon one another, share many of the same friends and lack their own unique identity, it might be worth the extra money to send them to separate camps. Children who are extraordinarily close to one another will benefit from learning how to work with others, build relationships, accept guidance and develop decision-making skills away from their family. As parents, we know when our children only choose comfortable situations, they find themselves limited in confidence, courage, and flexibility. The presentation of a new or unfamiliar situation at camp gives the overly-attached child the opportunity to grow in ways he or she never would have otherwise.
Another consideration is whether you choose to send your children to a traditional summer camp or a specialized camp that focuses on specific interests of the child such as space, sports, music or horseback riding. Our children are unique individuals with their own character, temperament, feelings, and dreams. Encouraging choice and autonomy in choosing their own camp leads to self-determination and independence.
Whichever way you decide to go, all of the camp outcomes—friendships, overcoming challenges, and building character— prepare your children for bigger, brighter lives in the future.
Denise Lindsay is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who helps families strengthen and improve their relationships. A proud mother of three daughters, she believes that the joy of a well-balanced life does not simply happen to us, but must be purposefully chosen. www.deniselindsaycounseling.com