What is a summer camp? Should I send my child to one?

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A summer camp is a place that offers activities for children and teens. They can be:

  • Traditional camps – offer outdoor activities, sports, crafts, and wilderness exploration.
  • Specialty camps – provide training on music, art, dance, sports, or academics; or building leadership, spirituality (church camps), or even weight-loss and healthy living.

Counsellors or assistants watch over the children. The programs can be as short as half a day to several weeks.

Why send your child to a summer camp?

  1. Children under the age of 12 cannot be left alone at home. A summer camp is an option to hiring a sitter or leaving kids in a daycare.
  2. They are great places for youthful energy and curiosity.
  3. It stops your kids from spending all their time on the computer. They can learn and gain new skills. It will make their vacation more productive and memorable.

Other benefits of attending summer camp:

  • Children learn social skills. They make new friends.
  • They learn independence, leadership and decision-making skills.
  • What they learn can boost their confidence.
  • They learn about the environment, nature, and exploration.
  • They have fun!

Things to consider when choosing a camp for your child:

  1. Location – Look for nearby camps. It will make it easy for you to drive them to and from the site.
  2. Cost – costs depend on the program. Check community-sponsored and church camps. They are more affordable. Some are even free. Ask your local YMCA/YWCA or the church you belong to.
    If you are in Winnipeg, check if you qualify to the fee subsidy program. Low income Winnipeggers get free access to recreation facilities and subsidies.

    Ask about the program’s refund policy. If your child cannot finish the program and needs to leave the camp, you can ask for your money back.

  3. Is it accredited? – the camp should meet standards of quality and safety. Know the qualifications of the training of camp director and counsellors. Ask their safety policies. They should have an emergency preparedness plan or medical aid. See how many kids a counsellor looks after. Check food policies if your child has food allergies. Go to the Manitoba Camping Association website. See a list of accredited member camps.
  4. Is it in line with your child’s interests? – ask your child if he or she likes the program. Check if the activities are for his or her age.

Finding a camp in your neighbourhood:

  1. Check your neighbourhood for summer camps. Check:
  2. Ask information from: Arts and music camps in Winnipeg, Manitoba Camping Association, or museums like the Manitoba Museum.
  3. Start looking for summer programs around March-April. Sign up early to ensure a spot. You may get a discount. Don’t worry if you haven’t signed your child up yet. You can find a program near you as long as it is still summer.

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