Matchmaking your child with the right camp may lead to a more rewarding summer experience.
Let’s face it — living in the 21st century, our lives can feel jam-packed with the never-ending list of meetings, play dates, homework, snacks, snacks and more snacks — oh, and don’t forget the extra planning required to keep kids happy and engaged in the summer months.
As parents are juggling professional and home responsibilities amid the ongoing pandemic, including managing stress and isolation, it’s essential to talk to your kids about their interests and goals. Are they interested in art? Are they asking to help you cook dinners and want to learn more recipes? Next time you’re sitting around the dinner table, spark up a conversation about their favorite subjects in school, sports they want to learn or even their favorite movies. These types of conversations give you the intel you’ll need to infuse a healthy dose of fun and learning into their summer days in the form of camps! Coordinate scheduling with your children’s friends to keep them connected while out of school.
Try to match kids’ interests with upcoming summer camps and programs that are tailored to that subject to make sure they stay engaged and looking forward to participating. Here are a few top tips to help your child connect their current interest with camps or activities as another summer rolls around:
- The social butterfly: If you have a child who is a true “people person,” find a camp this summer that provides your social butterfly the opportunities to engage in physical, social and educational activities. Check out an overnight camp option that allows your kids to explore nature, hike, learn new skills like archery — oh, and making friends of course! These outdoor opportunities allow kids to interact with their peers and begin to develop and strengthen a sense of self, teamwork, conflict resolution, compassion and acceptance. Resident “sleepaway” camp options can be as close to Orange County as Wrightwood or Big Bear.
- The gamer: Research has shown a loss of education over the summer, known as the “summer slide.” But if you have a little gamer in the household who winds up stuck to the video games all summer, Esports camps are the perfect remedy! For example, the YMCA of Orange County’s program offers curriculum-based learning that gives purpose to gaming time. Each session provides gaming improvement strategies, teamwork and communication skills, physical and mental wellness exercises, goal-setting techniques, and access to experienced Esports coaches and the highest level of Esports equipment. Kids learn skills in the top games like “Fortnite,” “Rocket League,” “League of Legends,” “Super Smash Bros.” and more.
- The budding historian: For those kids who just can’t get their head out of a book and might be fascinated by historic events like the sinking of the Titanic or the history of the United States of America, summer day camps may be the way to go because they can include such a range of topics. For example, an “Adventure in Time Travel” theme can emphasize achievement and reinforce a sense of belonging as students create a future that is safe and healthy. Summer day camps also include sports, outdoor activities, STEAM, field trips, character development and community service projects.
- The creative genius: If you have one in your house, there is no ignoring the creative mind. That’s why if your child tinkers with cars, Legos, science experiments or spends countless hours drawing or painting, putting together fashionable outfits, even decorating their room — find a specialty camp that taps into that creativity. Children learn in a variety of ways, but when given hands-on opportunities, those broader concepts become concrete and a reference to pull from later — especially when it comes to arts and sciences.
- The next Olympian: Participating in sports is a great way for kids to learn teamwork and commitment. Whether they’re really into soccer or eager to become the next Olympic gymnast, keeping them healthy and active in summer camps is a win-win for parents and kids. Who knows, it may even spark a new passion.
Summertime camps can include learning skills, developing character, trying something new and making friends, all delivered in a nice little package that’s called play. The YMCA of OC can be a resource for such programs; further details are available at https://ymcaoc.org/orange-county-camps/.
Dorain Cassell is director of Operations, Child & Youth Development at YMCA of Orange County.
By Dorain Cassel