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What Type of Summer Camp Will Your Child Like?

Summer camps for kids
Photo: Getty Images

When I was younger, I had only one choice for summer camp—the town camp. The town camp was a traditional all-day six-hour camp with a heavy emphasis on sports. I was more of a bookworm than an athlete, so this type of camp was not a good match for my personality. I remember coming home every day whining to my mom, “It was so hot and all we did was play (fill in a sport). Do I have to go to camp tomorrow?” By the end of the summer, I’m sure my mom wished there were other options for me.

Now, with so many choices, figuring out what type of camp would be a good fit for your child can be overwhelming. We describe the following camp experiences so that you can choose the right one for your child.


Traditional Day Camp

A traditional day camp is six hours—half-day options may be available—and offers a variety of activities such as sports, swimming, art and music. These camps are located at YMCAs, public schools, or private settings.

Is this camp a good fit for your child?

Most of the activities are outside, so if your child loves the outdoors and playing sports or team-building activities, then this environment would be a good type of camp for them. With its variety of things to do, this camp would also be a good fit for a child who likes to try different activities.

Sports

Specialty sports camps usually are one sport, such as baseball or soccer, that the child plays either for three or six hours. Options also may exist for tennis, golf, surfing or sailing camp. This type of camp is typically owned by private organizations.

Is this camp a good fit for your child?

If your children love a specific sport and would like to improve their skills, a sports camp would be a great option. Sports camp could even be a way for your children to try a sport that they might not otherwise have exposure to during the rest of the year.

Art and Musical Theater

Specialty art or musical theater camps focus solely on the arts. Musical theater camps typically showcase a production such as “Beauty and the Beast,” whereas an art camp would enable a child to use a variety of art media such as painting or drawing. These type of camps can be held through public or private schools and organizations.

Is this camp a good fit for your child?

If your child is creative and prefers the indoors, then these types of camps would be worth looking into. It may be a good way to introduce the arts to your child since most of these camps are limited to one or two weeks.

Educational

An educational camp focuses on learning a new skill or subject matter. Since it is camp and not school, these types of camps tend to be hands-on with an emphasis on fun. These camps are located at public schools, museums and colleges.

Is this camp a good fit for your child?

If your child is curious and always asking questions about how and why things work, this experience may be a good match for them. If a child is interested in learning a new skill, such as computer programming or speaking Spanish, some educational camps offer those opportunities as well.

Sleepaway

With overnight camp, your child lives at the camp for either a week or longer period. Sleepaway camp options include Boy and Girl Scout camps and private residential camps. These camps tend to offer options such as sailing, boating, archery, horseback riding and other activities that may not be available close to your home.

Is this camp a good fit for your child?

An overnight camp gives your child the chance to meet other kids from different states and countries. In addition, camp organizers provide more time to do activities and foster independence compared to traditional day camps.

Travel

You’ll find two types of travel camps. One type enables your child to go on day trips, and the other type, sometimes referred to as “teen tours,” allows your child to travel with a group for an extended period—usually for a few weeks or a month. This type of camp is located at religious or private organizations.

Is this camp a good fit for your child?

Some of these camps travel to places by plane, and it would give your child the chance to travel to a place that you might not have gone to as a family. If your child enjoys experiencing new destinations, then this camp experience would be a great fit for them.

How Can I Find These Camps?

A good place to start is by asking friends and family where they sent their child to camp and if it was a positive experience for the child. Also check with schools and organizations in the area. Hopefully, these explanations of camp types will help you to match your child with the correct camp. Imagine hearing your child tell you, “Camp was so much fun today.”

About Cheryl Maguire