When Summer Camp Isn’t a Success: What’s Next?

When a child arrives from camp at the end of the summer, parents hope to be regaled with positive camp stories highlighting a wonderful summer experience. However, sometimes summer just isn’t what the camper, or their parents, hoped for. And this can lead to a difficult question for parents to confront – what’s next? With re-enrollment around the corner, now is the time to establish whether a situation is correctable or it’s time for a change. So what are the possible options to tackle a summer that didn’t work out as desired?

Talk To the Director

The first thing to do in this situation is talk to the camp director. At Everything Summer we believe that returning to the same camp summer after summer can have exponential benefits – this continuity helps kids form lasting friendships, build self-confidence and aid their willingness to challenge themselves, and contributes overall to camper growth in the long-run. Try scheduling a call with the camp director, or even a meeting where they can come visit your son or daughter. Perhaps the key to a successful summer is simply a different bunk placement, or a little bit more of (or earlier exposure to) a favorite activity. At Everything Summer, we are currently in the process of following up with our client families to debrief on the past summer, convey critical feedback to camps, and provide further guidance to families. Directors are oftentimes very amenable to doing whatever they can (within reason) to make things work, and take feedback from families very seriously. By talking with your camp and giving them the opportunity to suggest ways to support your child next summer, you might be able to change the outlook of summer without having to transition out of an appropriate camp entirely.

The Camp Switch

Sometimes, for whatever reason, a camp switch might also be in the best interest of your child. Perhaps they’ve outgrown their camp’s structured schedule, and need to be in a place that will offer them more electives. Maybe their camp only offers full 7-week sessions, and that is simply too long for them. Or perhaps they are in a single-sex environment and would do better in a co-ed or brother-sister camp. There can be a great deal of value in summer camp for older campers, and just because one situation isn’t right that doesn’t mean that they should forego a traditional camp experience. By identifying the right environment – and one that has a track record of helping new campers of your child’s age succeed – you can position them to get all the benefits of summer camp in the type of place that’s right for them.

New Experiences

You may also find for whatever reason that your child may have outgrown camp and is ready for a new experience. Depending on their age, there may be other opportunities outside of traditional camp that can keep your child busy (and happy) throughout the summer. Short term adventure programs or volunteer programs offer great exposure to the types of options available during pre-college summers; and short-term specialty or academic programs can provide an avenue to explore a specific interest in a way that’s just not possible during the school year – and both can provide a break from traditional camp life if this is something your child struggled with. These experiences can also be combined with a shorter-session traditional camp experience, in the event that your child hasn’t entirely outgrown camp but is ready for something new as well.

Just because your child’s summer at camp isn’t what you hoped, this doesn’t mean it’s time to panic. By assessing what went wrong and taking the appropriate steps, you can position your child to succeed in the future and reap the unique benefits that summer has to offer.