Every summer it never fails… around May 1st I start worrying about where I am going to send my kids for summer camp,especially my oldest one. At first I casually ask other parents where their kids are doing for the summer. The answers are usually the same: academic camps, destination camps, trips overseas, or sport camps. After hearing all of the wonderful things their kids are doing, I start to get nervous and begin to frantically search for somewhere my kids can go. I call around to the usual suspects (churches, community gyms) and usual get the same responses. Either they have filled all of their spaces in March (wth) or they are charging 3x what they should be. At the end of this grueling process I am left with three kids staring at me all summer–with me trying to entertain them.
This summer will be different, you see I already “nipped this problem in the bud”. I got smart and this year I began to apply to summer camps in early March and late February. While all of my other friends were getting ready for Valentine Day dances or St. Patrick Day activities I was scouring the internet searching for a worthwhile summer program for my oldest son, DJ. This year, I applied to several camps, and in the end we got the one we really wanted! He secured a spot at a private school where he will get his academic skills reinforced, while learning about social justice and training for a triathlon! Wippee!!!
No longer will I have to ponder where I can send him to and have nightmares about the alternatives (those horrible camps where the kids are entertained by the television). So what can you do to be ready for the summer? Here are some tips:
1. Apply early. Most camps start in June and the only way to get into the really good ones is to apply and follow- up on your application.
2. Be prepared to pay a deposit–but it should not be large enough to put a dent in your savings. Every summer and girlfriend of mine sends her kids to an overnight camp for 3 weeks with a deposit (for each) of $300 dollars. She starts saving the previous year as soon as they go back to school and by the time summer camp comes back around she is not hurting for cash!
4. Research the camps theme and safety record. For every camp I applied for my son at, I visited the organization and/or school and found out about camp structure and safety.
5. Look at alternate places for camps. The same sport camps get boring, why not try a rock climbing camp instead of your tirg basketball camp. I have personally found, that most colleges offer student summer camp programs over the summer! Allowing a child to be on a college campus can be a great learning tool!
6. Apply for aid. For some reason some people do not apply for finacial reward or stipends for summer camps. I always say at least ask if financial assistance is available for incoming students. I have a friend who basically negotiates her price for camps every summer at big name camps!
So what are your plans for the summer and your kids’s summer camp? Let us know!