Overnight camps come in all shapes and sizes, and for many kids, are a phenomenal way to experience independence, develop friendships outside of school, and be exposed to new activities and opportunities. If you’re considering one for your child, but are not sure where to start, the Campseekers team is here to help.
Just like many youth experiences, overnight camp will undoubtedly bring growth to your child, but first and foremost, it needs to be fun!
What experience do you envision for your child? What environment will he/she enjoy? What will be fun?
Most overnight camps offer a plethora of activities, ranging from sports to arts to traditional campfire experiences. These general camps can be the perfect match for a child looking to spread his/her wings.
If your child isn’t into sports, or not looking to play sports at least part of each day, consider a specialty camp. There are some excellent overnight camps that emphasize swimming and boating, theater and arts, academics, and general outdoor activities (think archery, woodworking and hiking) more so than competitive team sports.
Once you’ve identified the types of activities that will engage your child, think about the environment and overall experience. Does your son/daughter prefer the woodsy outdoors, lakes or a more structured setting? Overnight accommodations can be tents and cots, cabins or even college dormitories. Does your child enjoy small, intimate settings or will he/she love being part of a big crew? The size of a camp as well as their accommodations (known as ‘bunks’) can greatly impact a camper’s experience.
Is your child ready and, if so, for how long?
Many overnight camps start as early as eight years old, but only you know if your child is ready at that age. Some camps offer a Rookie Program (one week) for young and/or new campers, while others require a minimum of 3-4 weeks per session. Take the time to truly consider if your child is ready to leave home and for how long. Most camps have the same mantra: a minimum of two weeks allows a child to truly settle into their camp routine and get a real feel for camp life vs. arriving and heading home only a few days later.
Who’s looking out for my child?
Counselor experience and ratio to campers is perhaps the most telling item when considering a potential overnight camp. Are the counselors college students and/or adults (Yes! Some camps hire teachers as summer counselors). Do they return as counselors year after year? Did they attend this camp when they were young? All of these details give parents insight into the time and attention paid to creating a safe, engaging and nurturing camp experience. Be sure to look at the counselor-to-camper ratio. The lower it is, the more the camp invests in a quality experience.