For parents of campers, or those who are considering sending their children to camp next summer, the Fall is an important time to position your children for summer camp success next year. While summer may still be many months away, it is a prime season for enrollment and re-enrollment for camps, and so now is the time to start grappling with these important questions to ensure you are on the ball when planning your child’s next summer.
For returning campers, the first and most vital step is to talk with your child about their previous summer. When working with Everything Summer clients, we always schedule debrief conversations this time of year to get a sense of how the previous summer went – and with permission, provide critical feedback to the camps.
Now that your child has had some time to reflect on the experience, make the effort to sit down with them and determine the right course of action for the following summer. First and foremost, try to understand if they want to go back. Ask them about any challenges they had or anything they wished was different about camp.
If your child expresses trepidation about returning to camp, or even if they want to go back but had some issues that impacted their experience, you will want to connect with the camp’s director. Listen with an open mind, and get their feedback on your camper’s experience and how camp can support your child; or if camp can accommodate any changes that might improve their experience.
After having this conversation, evaluate if you think returning to that camp will work for your child, or if it’s time to consider a switch. Remember, the values of summer camp accumulate exponentially when a child returns to the same camp year after year. That said, if you ultimately feel that being in another camp environment will be most beneficial to your child, we recommend making that switch earlier rather than later to give your child a chance to grow in subsequent summers.
Evaluating New Camps
If your child has not been to camp before and you think you’ll be sending them next summer, or if you’ve decided to transition them to another sleep away camp, there are a few key steps to take to help structure your decision.
Upfront, you’ll want to think logistically about what kinds of camps will be best for your child. Get a sense of how long you want them to be at camp – are you considering half-season or full-season camps, and do you anticipate that they might attend longer (or shorter) sessions as they grow older?
You’ll also want to determine whether you’ll be considering single-sex, co-ed, or brother-sister camps (or a combination of the above), and what size camp you think your child will ultimately be able to thrive in. Get a sense of the program structure – do kids pick their activities, or are activities assigned – and if you have a younger camper, try to grasp how their experience will change or evolve over time.
Once you’ve given some thought to these parameters, you can begin narrowing down your list of camps. Talk to families you know who have experience at camps that may work, and try to get a sense of their culture. Reach out to directors to speak with them – and if your child is switching camps, be sure to be candid about the challenges they faced previously and gauge how you think a given camp’s director will be able to support them. When working with Everything Summer families, we have extensive profiling conversations with camp directors to evaluate their ability to support a particular camper’s needs and personality.
The Fall is a major season for camp enrollment. If you’ll be re-enrolling your child, sending them to camp for the first time, or transitioning them to a new camp environment it’s important to take the right steps now so you’re able to secure a spot in a right-fit environment moving forward. At Everything Summer, we work proactively with families to help identify right-fit summer camp experiences; if you are in need of summer guidance, please reach out to see if we can be of assistance.