Growing up I was never exposed to summer camps. I can’t even remember how I filled my days. My parents NEVER sent me to camp. Now, as a mom of 3 boys, I knew that I couldn’t have them at home all summer (3 boys together 24/7 is challenging at times) and I knew that I would never be able to “entertain” them for 9 weeks! Sending them to camp, even as a stay-at-home mom made sense to me. It was a win-win. They get far more out of it than me, but that’s the point!
Camp is not just meant to have someone “watch your kids”. Camp is meant to motivate and stimulate your child and for them to have FUN! My boys have done so many different camps – some they loved, some they hated and that’s okay. They’ve tried everything from soccer camp to gymnastics to cooking to art to science and even city-run camps. They have tried pretty much everything! Some have been pricey and some have been very reasonable.
What I love about sending my boys to camp is that they get so much out of it. They get to try new things – sometimes something they have never done before. Sometimes they just explore something they know they already love. When I think about it, I can’t believe what they actually get out of summer camps; it goes far beyond screen-free days and fresh air. They further develop gross motor skills and fine motor skills. They develop independence, because I am not there to help them with every little thing and if they need help, they have to learn to ask! They learn how to be responsible for their belongings (and yes, we have lost many things along the way). They have learned how to be leaders, how to socialize with others and to be part of a team.
The key to finding the best camp for my boys has always been, “Did they have fun?”. In the end, no matter what camp I sent them to, they always wanted to go back if they had fun. They may not have learned how to be the next Messi or Chef Ramsay or Picasso, but because they were having fun I knew that they were learning something because they were interested. They learned how to interact in a social environment WITHOUT ME, they learned how to be responsible and caring and they learned something new about themselves too and what is of interest to them. This summer my 16-year-old will be WORKING at one of his favourite camps, my 14-year-old will be volunteering at that same camp and my youngest, 10, will still be a camper – because THEY CHOSE to!
(Mom of 3 boys)