With the first signs of spring comes the reminder that warm weather is just around the corner. It’s time to get creative with ways for your kids to get the most out of summer, and usually that means one thing: camp. Summer camps have come a long way in the last decade, highlighting niche areas of interest and incorporating healthy lifestyles. So, how are you going to have your kids spend their summer months?
Sports camps: This traditional style camp is usually focused on one specific sport, be it baseball, soccer, cheerleading — you get the idea. These camps are excellent for honing physical skills required for the sport, but also encourage sportsmanship and teamwork. More than 70 percent of kids drop out of a sport before high school. Camps can help kids feel more confident in their performance and knowledge of the sport, and even encourage them to identify with it as a part of who they are. These are usually day camps staffed with experienced volunteers who share a love of the sport.
Weight loss camps: A few years ago, the Centers for Disease Control reported more than one-third of children and adolescents were considered “obese.” A poor diet paired with low level activity is often the root cause of obesity, and one of the biggest side effects is low self esteem. Weight loss camps focus on learning better eating habits, understanding where food comes from and how to put a plate together as well as teaching the kids physical activity can be fun. Expect your child to actually lose weight during this time period, but more importantly, gain confidence. Ask your pediatrician for recommendations; check out these nationally known camps: Camp Shane, Wellspring Camp, Camp Pennbrook.
>> Read more: 5 Tasty Summer Sips for Kids
Exploration camps: From hiking and fossil-finding to writing in a journal, exploration camps touch on the more sensitive, creative side of kids. The Department of Psychology at Emory University conducted a study showing children go through self-discovery stages from birth to age five. Self-awareness as an adult sprouts from these formative years. Even kids ages six to 12 can further develop each stage, especially from taking the time and space to play. Camps like this also revolve around theater or drama, art and some sciences. Mental well being is just as vital as physical health. (via Emory) Click here for some educational summer fun with your kids!
When looking at camps, you want to make sure your child is ready to go. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the child be up to date on vaccines, pass a health screening and review any special medical needs. Kids feeling homesick is one of the most common experiences, and the AAP encourages parents to openly discuss it. Take a look at the menu of what’s offered; it should match the guideline for the federal guidelines for school nutrition. According to the American Camp Association, more than 11 million kids will be going to camp this year! (via Comprehensive Pediatrics)