Even though as I type this, the forecast is bleak and snow is on its way, I am still forced to think ahead to summer camp for my children. While some people may be on top of things and able to know what weeks during summer months their children will and will not be attending the summer camp of their choice, some of us are not so clairvoyant.
This post should help you (and me) prepare ourselves for the onslaught of summer childcare plans that are going to come full force in the next months. There are lots of options for those of us that have school age kids. The hard part is knowing where to look and when to sign up! The following are possibilities for you to explore so you can make the best choice for you and your family and do it within the (generally very early) time frame.
YMCA Day Camps – These camps are set up by your local YMCA and give your child the chance to be outside and explore nature all in a nurturing, caring environment. Generally, these camps have a very early signup and you have to pay a deposit for each week your child(ren) will attend. The deposit then goes toward the rest of the tuition which is due prior to that week – generally one or two weeks earlier. The really nice part is that these camps have care before and care after for an extra fee. Most, if not all of them also offer swim lessons.
My kids went to Y Daycamp last year and they loved it! Our experience was very positive and we will probably do the same this summer. You can check out the Y camps by visiting http://www.ymca.net/find-a-y-camp/. Once there, you can type in your zip code and see if your local community offers a summer camp.
The Y summer camps also offer overnight camps. This could be a really fun experience if both your child and you are ready for such an experience. I went to an overnight in the third grade for girl scout camp and still remember that week to this day! This might be a possibility you want to explore for a week – if you feel like you are ready for it. If you are ready, do you think your child(ren) is ready?
Some other options to explore include local daycares. Even thought these are for preschoolers, most offer school age children classes and activities during the summer months. This is especially useful if you have a preschooler that is already attending that school. Who doesn’t like one drop off? The downfall is that sometimes your older child feels embarrassed that they are attending a “preschool” for their summer.
There are always bible camps held during the summer. These are fun and filled with activities. They generally only last a week or two, however, so you need to know ahead of time what those weeks will be to plan accordingly. You also want to make sure what the times are. In my experience, they are not an all day camp. As such, be prepared to make arrangements for before and after, as they will probably only be from 3-5 hours per day. Signups for these are also fairly early.
Your local rec centers offer some really focused classes that you and your child(ren) may be interested in. Anything from art, science, math or even engineering classes! Your child’s budding interests will be sparked during these intense sessions. Again, these are generally only a week or two. Most offer before or after choices, but don’t always count on it. The pros of doing something like this are the experience. Your budding artist or scientist can really hone their craft, or at least try something new.
The keys to summer camp sanity is simple:
1. Plan EARLY!
2. Figure out vacations – not just your own family vacation. You also need to get with Grandmas and Grandpas and find out what they are doing, if they also do vacations with the kids. Get all of these dates down on paper. Both Grandparents, if applicable.
By doing this, you know what weeks you don’t need to worry about. Now you can focus on the weeks you need to find stuff for the kids to do while you work!
I always have a goal of only needing three weeks a month for summer camp. After I get vacation dates cemented in stone, we figure if there are going to be any long weekends, etc. This gives us an idea of what we still need to do. Because we are in a more organized state of mind, we are now able to see if any specialized camps might work for the kids. While this might not seem like a big deal, it really is! This small amount of planning on your part can really make the difference between being able to have your kid do a one week (insert specialty here) camp, and realizing too late that you missed the deadline!
My suggestion to you is make your calls to grandparents NOW. Figure out your vacation schedules NOW. Start researching the possibilities of where your kids might go NOW. The deadlines approach quickly – generally in March. April at the latest. Be prepared to fill out applications and put down deposits in either March or April.
Now that you have a better idea of what you need to do, get on it! Time’s a wasting! You can do this. Think of all the fun you will have this summer and all the memories your kids will cherish. Good luck and happy Pre-Summer!