Summer Camp Search
February and March are the months to attend summer camp fairs. I’ve already attended two, and am slowly filling my child’s summer schedule with fun activities. The camp fairs were a little overwhelming for me, as a parent of a kindergartener. However, I think the key to choosing a good fit for a summer camp for your kid all boils down to how well you know you know yourself and your own kid.
Traditional Un-plugged Day Camps
I’m a big fan of getting kids out in nature…mainly because when I was young, my parents weren’t into hiking or things of that sort. I remember watching A LOT of daytime television during school breaks when I was young. Part of it was because my mom didn’t really drive much, there were three of us kids, and we were on a budget. Besides, I went to a year-round school, so summers weren’t exactly the traditional “summers” that my kid has now. Now that I have a kid, I vowed to not put her in the same situation. That’s what I love about these “unplugged” day camps. Getting dirty, meeting new friends, and using your imagination outdoors is essential for physical and mental development and growth. Luckily in Los Angeles, there are several day camps within driving distance (or have complimentary pick-ups), where a child can experience nature for several hours but still return home every day.
I saw a lot of great overnight camps at the fairs – some within driving distance, others as far as an airplane ride away! While some parents are perfectly fine sending their kids off, I know it’s outside of my comfort zone. A good friend of mine who has an outgoing 8-year-old will be sending her kid to a sleep away camp. Her kid has autonomy and is not easily influenced by others. She will be fine and enjoy the experience.
I didn’t have my first sleep away camp experience until I was in sixth grade, through a school sponsored trip. I think a few school districts in California do something like that, and it might be a good start if your child would be more comfortable recognizing a faces among the campers.
Depending on your child’s age and interest, I think a sports camp is best suited for those with some exposure to the sport. Camps are long days, and it’s not a good idea to stick a kid in a one-sport camp for several hours a day, or days at a time if they aren’t familiar with it or don’t have an interest. A great way to gauge that is by taking a couple regular classes (not just one) to get the child acclimated with the sport. A friend of mine told me her daughter signed up for a basketball camp only to learn the other campers played at a much higher level than her. It was not a learning camp, but more of a conditioning camp. Those are some questions to ask before signing up. A good option for the sports-interested child are camps that have multiple sport options with flexible schedules. Definitely chat with the people running the camp and be honest about your child’s ability level and their expectations. For kids that do have a strong interest and want to get better at their sport, it’s a wonderful way to focus and accelerate their abilities.
Almost every parent wants their kid to excel in science. Luckily, there are several science camp options to help with that. The focus of most of these camps is to make science fun and create an interest that will last through the school year. A good thing about science camp is it’s more hands on and allows more time for science than traditional science classes in school. There are more resources and interested students to create the environment where learning is fun.
It’s advantageous to live in a city like Los Angeles where the staff at most theater camps have resumes with recognizable credits. Performing is a learned skill that has a multitude of benefits in the long run. Students gain listening skills, learn how to work together, how to be tenacious, public speaking, and more. Most theater camps teach acting and singing. The best part is most theater camps have a performance at the end of the session, so the parents can see their kid(s) in action!
Fine Art and Writing Camps
I believe everyone has the ability to express themselves through art. Just like walking, it’s something everyone can do but people have a tendency to judge themselves before they even try. Art camp is a great way to explore untapped potential or hone in on a technique. Everyone has a story to tell, and writing is a way to share that story with others. Some art camps even have need-based scholarships. If you feel like it’s of interest but not enough of one to spend the money for a camp, there are plenty of affordable options as close as your neighborhood art store!
There are plenty of other camp offerings available. I’ve only touched on a few. This is the first time since my daughter was born that we are staying in Los Angeles instead of spending most of the summer with my family back East. It will be a fun (I hope) and interesting summer, and I look forward to sharing our experiences with you!
Disclaimer: Westside Mommy attended these camps on my own. All opinions are honest and 100% my own. Westside Mommy has current or upcoming sponsorships with the following schools or camps: Tae Ryong Taekwondo Brentwood, Upstage Theatre Schools, and Tumbleweed Day Camp.