Camp Activities, Assigned or Chosen.
Which is Best?
When researching which sleep away camp would be a good fit for your child one feature that should be considered but is often overlooked is how the campers’ days are planned. There are two approaches to camp scheduling and either is a good option depending on you and your child. Camps with a CHOICE SCHEDULE have the campers choose the activities. At TRADITIONALLY STRUCTURED camps the activities are assigned by age group or bunk.
Sometimes when I consult with a family the mom will say, “My child works so hard in school and her time is packed with obligations. I want camp to be about what is important to her.” That family would feel quite comfortable with a camp where the campers choose the activities. A budding tennis player can spend every day on the court or a child who is passionate about arts can focus on the many arts projects they will find in the arts barn. This style is particularly good for a child who is self directed and who can advocate for themselves. Alternatively, a family who wants their child to be exposed to everything camp has to offer might be happiest with a traditionally structured schedule. This is especially good if a child is tentative or gets overwhelmed with too many decisions. This structure gives campers a broad and balanced exposure to all their offerings and builds on new skills in a variety of disciplines.
What are the pluses and minuses?
- + Kids can build skills in areas of high interest by choosing them more often
- + Kids feel empowered by controlling their activities
- + Friendships based on shared love of a specific activity are made
- – Kids who are reluctant to try things they have never done might not take advantage of all a camp has to offer
- – Bunk cohesiveness is more challenging at this style of camp
Traditionally Structured by the Camp
- + Everyone will be exposed to all the camp has to offer
- + Kids learn skills in activities that they did not think they would like
- + Friendships in the bunk are easier to make because the kids are together throughout the day
- – Wider friendships with kids of different ages are not as easy to develop
- – A camper might have to participate in something they really don’t like
One could argue for either approach. The key is which one fits your child.