As an advisor with Tips on Trips and Camps, I pride myself on knowing more than the average parent about summer opportunities for children. Yet, I still struggle with which direction to go for my middle school boy. He thinks he has out grown the traditional overnight camp, and frankly would rather sit in front of the xbox all summer playing with his remote friends. One thing I do know– that is not going to happen! I don’t want a couch potato who occasionally whines about being bored two weeks into summer. As children reach 7th and 8th grade, their options really open up: domestic or international travel with some wilderness adventure or culture thrown in; academic enrichment or study skills to prepare them for the rigors of high school; language immersion if they have completed some language in middle school and want to really learn outside of a classroom environment; community service to open their eyes to the world around them. Even I struggle with which direction to go. My older son did sailing in the caribbean while learning to SCUBA dive. He loved that! However, each child is different, and sea sickness rules it out this time around. The possibilities are endless and the time is now to decide… I must get busy and apply my knowledge and expertise in order to help my own child find the right summer program.
It’s April, and I, like many of the parents I work with am thinking: “what is my daughter going to do this summer?” It would be great for her to get a job, but as we all know, it’s not that easy in this economic climate.
As a camp advisor, I have access to, and relations with hundreds of incredible summer overnight programs. The programs that I represent are carefully screened, I know the directors, and I am familiar with the culture of each and every one. You’d think with all the amazing summer camps and trips out there, my daughter would be chomping at the bit to take part this summer, right? No, not really… She is completely immersed in her schoolwork, sports and extra curricular activities, not to mention the college decision-making process that is happening right now. My daughter, a senior in high school, isn’t ready to think about summer plans yet. I think she just wants to get through the semester, graduate, and then take a deep breath.
But I however, am doing behind the scenes research for her on the most meaningful and fun summer program that I think she would love. The summer trip is going to be a graduation gift to her, a reward for her work well done, and a celebration of all her achievements in high school. She mentioned traveling to Fiji or Australia at one of our dinner conversations. She also likes the idea of doing meaningful community service with families struggling after the hurricane. Or she could join a leadership expedition specifically for graduating seniors, and earn her Wilderness First Responder certification in Colorado. Whether we decide on a two or four week trip, I know once she goes she will love it, meet interesting kids, see amazing sights, and have incredible experiences that she will remember for a lifetime.
Overnight programming in the summer is so valuable. Whether your child is 8 years old, and is a first time camper; or he is 18 years old and is a graduating senior, the lessons learned and the experiences gained can be life changing. Independence, self-esteem, and confidence all come to my mind when thinking about the value of sleep away summer camp. I know that my children have benefited from the fact their mom is a summer camp advisor. They are lucky to have taken part in amazing overnight camps and programs these last six years, and I am grateful for the personal growth they have made as a result of their overnight camp experiences.