Preparing your child for summer camp will ensure success

Summertime is here and hundreds of camps are ready to provide your kids and teens with a fun learning experience!  Today we are going to share with parents the benefits of your kids going to summer camp; how to find a camp; and, ways to prepare your child for a wonderful camp experience.

Camps have a big impact on childhood development:

The camp experience is recognized by child development professionals as valuable in helping children mature socially, emotionally, intellectually, morally, and physically. At camp, children learn to problem-solve, make social adjustments to new and different people, learn responsibility, and gain new skills to increase their self-esteem.

Benefits for children in summer programs:

  • Involvement in summer camps provides children and teens with a wide variety of activities that build personal, social, and future employability skills.
  • Summer programs---through field trips to local attractions—expose many children to locations in the city that they generally don’t get a chance to access---museums, parks, sporting events, and venues.
  • For some children, participating in summer programs assure that they get regular meals and healthy snacks when school is out of session.
  • Our local camps deliberately incorporate fun learning activities in reading, math, science, arts, technology to keep young brains alive.
  • Summer programs are also a big employer of teens and youth----every summer, several thousand teens of high school and college age serve as counselors and activity leaders under the guidance of professional staff.

Where can I find a great camp for my child?

Indianapolis is fortunate to have the Summer Youth Program Fund, a collaborative of 11 local and national partners, which has provided $2.6 million in grants to support youth summer programs this year at 172 organizations in Marion County. The grants fund programs, activities and experiences for more than 58,212 area children ages 4 to 19—many of which are free, low-cost or have scholarships available.

Marion County youth will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of camps, acquire employment, enhance their academics, engage with the arts and enjoy other summer activities, because of these grants.  For every child’s interest or need, there is a camp that is a great match for your child!

  • Click on summerfunindy.org  for a listing of available Marion County summer opportunities funded by the Summer Youth Program Fund.
  • The American Camp Association provides resources for a wide variety of outdoor camps statewide and nationwide for youth and families: http://find.acacamps.org/

Preparing your child for camp will ensure success!

  • Don’t be afraid to let your child go to camp: If you are worried that your child is not going to know anyone, talk to them about the value of meeting new people and friends. If you are worried about your child’s medical needs, talk to the camp nurse. If you are anxious about their food allergies, talk to the camp manager and cook. If your child is not a good swimmer, let the camp manager know and they will take precautions to supervise your child.  Express your enthusiasm for the camp experience with you child and avoid sharing your anxieties.
  • Gear up.If you purchased new tennis shoes, a swimsuit, shorts or hiking boots, have your child wear them before camp, so your child can break them in and is comfortable at camp.  Also, apply sunscreen to your child each morning before camp.
  • Detach from technology. If your child is heavily dependent on the use of technology, have them take breaks for a few hours at a time as they gear up for camp to reassure them that life is enjoyable without a screen in front of them.   Many camps utilize technology but they also emphasize physical activity. Interaction with people and new adventures.
  • Do not let your child quit camp.We recommend that you do not tell your child to “Give it a couple of days and if you don’t like it, you can quit camp.” Children need to learn how to work through an adjustment period of something new and by the end of camp they will be glad they stayed.
  • Discuss the camp’s purpose so your child knows what to expect. Every camp has particular focus areas and activities so be sure your child does not expect to be riding horses if the camp does not offer that activity.  Managing expectations will get your child excited about their camp experience.

Other Youth Resources for Parents:

To get a copy of MCCOY’s Youth Activity Directory, go to  www.mccoyouth.org/resource/youth-activity-directory

Courtesy of Social Health Association of Indiana, an educational nonprofit organization empowering youth to make responsible choices and adopt healthy behaviors. Parent resources are available on the website: www.socialhealth.org  or by calling 317-667-0340