The time is upon us. Before the leaves even bud on the trees, Mom and Dad need to decide how their children’s summer months will be spent. All day? Half day? Sleep away? Trying to navigate summer camp options can be unnerving. Take a few deep breaths and read the advice below.

summer learning camp guide

The Dos

Do take your time to pour over the flyers and websites of different camps. Getting familiar with what’s out there is worth the effort. And it’s not just your local park district or private camps offering up options this summer. Check places of worship, your child’s school, local play spaces, libraries, or even museums for their seasonal offerings.

Do be sure to find a camp that fits your child’s interests. Is your child more interested in the visual arts? Find a sculpting or painting camp. Does your child love building and experimenting? There are more STEM-based camp offerings than ever. There are also theater, dance, sports camps and more! Thankfully, there are plenty of specialized opportunities for your camper.

Do familiarize yourself with the before- and after-care options of day camp. If camp is only offered from 9 a.m. to noon, what options do you have after camp is over? Some day camps even offer bus rides to and from camp.

Do research payment terms. Writing a big check in January for camp can feel unsettling for an event that’s still six months away. Explore payment installment options, sibling discounts, or vacations rebates for the camp you’ve chosen.

Do make sure you know the camp’s safety parameters. If the program you’ve selected includes a lake or pool option, find out if campers must pass a swimming test to go in. What is the ratio of campers to counselors? How often do campers stop to reapply sunscreen? When it comes to your child, there are no over-precautions.

summer learning

The Dont’s

Don’t wait. While it’s daunting to decide in the cold months how your child will spend their summer, scrambling at the last minute feels much worse. Educate yourself on the options and cross it off your list.

Don’t try to coordinate camp with your child’s friends, especially when they are in first grade or under. If their friends’ schedules work out, terrific. If it doesn’t, your child will toddle of to the camp and make new friends. Trying to synchronize calendars with their besties can be nearly impossible.

Don’t spring a brand new activity or sport on your child for camp. Sure, a weeklong golf camp sounds awesome, but what if day one is a disaster? Stick to your child’s interests.

Don’t schedule every second in the summer. As they say, its summertime and the livin’ is easy. Try not to forget that your child has worked hard all school year and deserves some downtime. If your work allows for summer hours on Fridays, make sure your child isn’t at camp at the same time. Searching for sticks and running through the sprinkler in the backyard is good old-fashioned fun your child has earned.

Doing all of these things will help your little camper enjoy their summer months!