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Guest Blog Post by Laura Pearson, Edutude

Summer camp is practically a rite of passage in the United States. Even though the definition has grown to encompass all kinds of activities (band camp, scout camp, science camp, space camp, and so on), the core idea remains the same: kids spend a week or two with other kids and adults doing activities that are fun and enriching.

These days, people are more in tune with how children have different needs. Gone are the days when you packed up all your kids and sent them to a summer camp by the lake. If your child has severe allergies or has fallen behind in school, making baskets in the woods might not be what he or she needs.

Before you enroll your children in summer camp, ask yourself an important question: Will that camp meet your child’s needs?

Why Go to Summer Camp at All?

Most summer camps aren’t cheap, even if you find one that has a scholarship program of some sort. Is it worth it? While it depends somewhat on your child and your living situation, the answer is generally yes.

There are long-term social and emotional benefits from going to camp. Camp can help kids develop their social intelligence by giving them a safe but purposeful environment in which to meet people. Camp is a place that encourages children to make friends and build bonds, not just with other kids but with the adults running the camp.

Camp can also foster resilience by giving kids plenty of opportunities to do things on their own. Whether it’s an archery competition or a coding challenge, they don’t even have to win to benefit. Just seeing that they can do better at something after a few days of practice can improve children’s self-esteem and confidence.

Picking a Camp For Them, Not You

Do a Google search for summer camps, and chances are, you’ll find many different kinds out there. Of course, there’s the traditional summer camp that’s outdoors and full of camping experiences. But there also are coding camps where kids learn how to program, reading camps where those who need to improve their fluency and reading level can get the help they need, and so much more.

The key is to make sure you focus on your children’s needs, not your own.

You might have fond memories of s’mores around the fire and swimming in a super-cold lake. But just because you liked those activities doesn’t mean your kids will. You know your children better than anyone, so take time to speak with them and find out what they would like from camp.

Then pick a camp that works for all of you. There are sleep-away camps, day camps (where you drop off and pick up your kid every day) and camps that are in between. Some camps run a few days; others last the whole summer. If your children are old enough, you might even let them ask questions of the camp directly.

Children with Special Needs

If your child has special needs, summer camp is still an option. In fact, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) states that summer camps open to the general public must have reasonable modifications so any child with special needs can still participate with the other kids. Obviously, not every camp facility can make all modifications; an outdoor camp cannot reasonably be asked to accommodate a child with such severe allergies that outdoor play is dangerous.

But there are summer camps specifically designed for children with special needs, such as those with autism or diabetes.

Summer camp can be an amazing and rewarding experience for your kids, and it is definitely worth considering. Just make sure that you work with your kids to find camps that will meet their needs.

Laura Pearson believes that every student has great potential and aims to help as many as possible unlock it. She wants to help bright young minds that don’t feel engaged in the traditional classroom setting. She and Edutude strive to find unique, creative ways for parents and educators to encourage students to be challenged, motivated and excited by learning.