Top Summer Camps For Kids

Summer can be a wonderful time for children filled with an abundance of new learning experiences. There are many camps throughout the nation that offer a wide variety of programs for children of all ages. Some exceptional, well known organizations offering current camps are Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and 4-H. The YMCA and YWCAs offer multi-aged summer camps. The Boys and Girls Clubs of America host many developmentally appropriate programs for youth.

Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts have a variety of summer camps in communities all over the United States. Both day camps and sleep away camps are offered. If you have a child who is either a Boy Scout or Girl Scout, he or she can work towards badge requirements while at the summer camp. In a typical program, children are involved in a variety of crafts, athletics, and socialization activities. Many Girl Scout and Boy Scout camps also have drama, music and art.

4-H is well known for its quality summer camp programs. 4-H encourages kids to be helpful, compassionate members of society. There are numerous cooperative learning activities in place in 4-H summer programs. Working with animals is another strong component of 4-H camps. Many of the summer camps are located in more rural environments. The goal is for children to have an opportunity to explore their natural surroundings. Many camp environments expose children to a farm like setting. Children have an opportunity to learn to take care of farm animals. Some programs have ropes courses that assist in developing self confidence, balance and coordination. The cooperative learning focus of numerous 4-H camps develops children’s social skills and promotes cooperation.

The Boys and Girls Clubs of America can be found in many local communities, typically in more urban settings. There are numerous summer activities for children of all ages at The Boys and Girls Clubs. There are sports leagues, art classes, dance, drama and music programs. Many centers provide summer school, tutoring, and a variety of community educational support services. Most activities take place during the day. Some clubs are affiliated with area sleep away camps, in many cases, having the ability to offer parents discounted rates. The clubs promote volunteerism and community involvement. Camp counselors take children on outings to nursing homes and area hospitals. Other Boys and Girls Clubs are involved with community beautification and take part in gardening activities. Positivity and cooperation are two major components of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America programs for youth.

Learn about the camps available for children in the local community. Many programs are cost effective, offering just as many activities as more expensive summer camps. Getting your kids involved with an established summer program will help them to have an exciting, memorable summer filled with beneficial experiences and learning opportunities.

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Five Tips For a Fun Summer With Your Kids

Lucky for me I don’t have to entertain my oldest any longer. He’s got a job and his own life, which doesn’t include me very often. I remember being 17, seems like just yesterday, but in reality it was quite a while ago. Now, instead of him asking me to do things, I’m on the begging side – trying to make every idea seem like the ultimate experience. As you may have guessed, he doesn’t fall for it very often!

My daughter is going to her preschool this summer. She loves it and is learning so many new things each day I can’t bear to take her out too often. Although I do have some things planned for her that will involve a day or two away from school.

However, this is the summer of dreams for my middle son. Matt is 12 and is at a perfect age to do really fun stuff and is actually still into doing them! He does have a few summer camps and has All-Star baseball practices and games, which we’ll have to work around but I’ve got some great ways to keep him entertained this year.

To begin this great summer, we decided to start it off right…seeing the sunrise at the beach on the first day of summer vacation. Well, technically it was the second day…my husband needed to take care of the baby while we were doing this and he was traveling for business on the first day, but it still counts in my book as the first day…

After a little research, we found out the sun would rise at 5:35 am. We live about an hour from the beach so taking everything into consideration we would have to wake up around 4:00 am. Did I mention this was mainly my idea?? Matt was a trooper though, he still wanted in on the adventure!

On the day of, we woke up at the designated time. We drove, parked, grabbed our blankets, put on our jackets (keeping in mind it’s always a bit cooler near the water) and were sitting on the beach at 5:30. What did we see…yep, clouds! No biggie though, we made the best of it. And, it was even more exciting when we could actually make out the outline of the sun.

We only stayed about 30 minutes and then we were off for a good breakfast; unfortunately most places in the area were still closed. Again, no problem, we decided to drive most of the way home and stop on the way. Of course, I did have to stop at a rest stop and catch a few “zzzs”. I hate driving when I’m even a little tired! But the rest of the drive we talked about all the fun things we wanted to do this summer and the things we wanted to accomplish, just another bonding opportunity!

We had breakfast at a great Jersey diner and made our way home. We had a really fun time and although it didn’t work out quite as I’d hoped, we made the most of it and created a great memory, maybe even a new tradition.

Here are some things to keep in mind as you plan for your fun summer with your kids:

  1. New is good: Don’t be afraid to try something new (even if it means getting up at an ungodly hour). Your kids might balk at first but don’t back down, they’ll appreciate it in the end.
  2. Fun is better: Find ways to infuse fun into the event. For example, Matt and I could have brought a ball and had a catch on the beach too, I could have packed food and we could have had breakfast on the beach (your kids will think this is totally cool because it’s something you probably haven’t done), we could have drawn pictures of the sunrise as we watched it. All fun things to make a possible “boring” event into something they’ll love.
  3. Traditions of the past are the future: Look to create new traditions, things kids will remember fondly as they grow older. For example, we usually go see the fireworks at our local high school on July 4. It’s not that big of a deal (although the show is spectacular, really- the best I’ve seen), it’s a quick walk from our house with a few chairs scattered on the football field, and then the fireworks. However, this year my son did a whole school project on our tradition of going to the fireworks, how he loves it, and how much it means to him. Don’t underestimate the power of traditions, even the small ones.
  4. Ask, listen, and talk: Take opportunities during the fun to talk with them. Ask them questions and listen to the answers. For us, the drive to the beach took some time, we could have just listened to music but instead we talked about a lot of things: the sunrise, the planets, the atmosphere, having a summer job, the value of money, and of course, all the other cool plans we have. It’s the perfect time to understand the way they think and let them understand how you think.
  5. Plan well but don’t dwell: Plan things you all will enjoy too. If you’re having fun, they are having fun. The most important thing…keep your expectations in check. If things don’t go as planned, it’s okay. It may be even more fun, you never know unless you let your guard down and go with it.