When seeking a summer camp or a teen program for your child, think about asking yourself this: Whose experience is this? Simple, right? It is your child’s experience and not your own.
So when looking for a sleep away camp or teen program, let’s not forget to seek out the experience that best fits your child and not simply replicate what you may have had. There is a distinction between wanting your child to love camp as much as you did, and sending him to a camp that fits what you but maybe not he or she would enjoy.
Many parents call me and say something like “I loved my camp and think I am going to send my child there, but I am calling you to see what else is out there.” While it is natural and appropriate to want your children to love their camp experiences as much as you loved yours, that experience is often found at a place that is different from where you went as a child. Perhaps your camp had a choice schedule, but you feel your child needs more guidance and structure. Perhaps your camp was super sporty , but your child isn’t interested in competitive athletics, likes to play just for fun or is focused more on the arts.
Certain characteristics will be non negotiable no matter what camps you consider; your values, your ideas about supervision and safety, for example. But others will be very child specific, like activity offerings, level of competition and types of programming.
So when beginning your sleepaway camp search, remember, you are looking for a place where your child can be happy and grow, and it may just be different from the place you loved as a child.