Summer camp is a wonderful opportunity for kids to keep their minds active and their bodies moving, to learn new skills, practice a favourite sport, or experience nature. Academic summer camps are centered around keeping up with a particular subject to prepare kids for their return to school in the fall. These can be a great help given the statistics on summer learning loss, especially since the pandemic. When it’s time to make a decision, here are some questions to help narrow down the options.
1. Will it be fun and enjoyable for the child?
There really is something for everyone when it comes to summer camp. One of the most important things to consider is whether your child will enjoy it. Even if the camp says it’s fun and you think it sounds fun, what’s most important is that your child agrees … and has fun!
You can start by focusing on your child’s particular interests. Or challenge them to explore something new, which can be a wonderful opportunity for growth. Of course, you don’t want to force them into an activity they won’t enjoy. The goal really is for them to expand their knowledge or develop a skill and have a great time along the way.
While outdoor summer camps are more the tradition, academic camps give kids the chance to develop their young minds while working on their skills in an encouraging, energetic environment where games and activities are incorporated. These often serve both the kids who need help in a certain subject and those who excel and want to be challenged.
2. What will they learn?
No matter the type of camp your child attends, they should come away having learned something: whether it’s to be better skilled at a sport, more knowledgeable about the outdoors, or more competent in a school subject. In camps of all types, kids often learn responsibility and accountability through individual and group tasks. Summer camp gives kids needed time away from their families and friends so they can gain different insights and develop friendships.
Academic summer camps can boost a child’s love of learning while focusing on a certain subject. These can be great for kids with a specific academic interest — like robotics or art — and they can also enable kids who are behind in a subject to catch up. Many of them are taught by university students or professionals who work in the particular field that the camp is focused on. This gives a child the added benefit of learning how their skills and knowledge might be applied when they go to university and enter the workforce.
3. Will it give them a leg up when school starts?
While there can be no guarantees on precisely how much a child will learn or improve in any given skill, the experience of summer camp usually makes a positive difference in a child’s life. Good camps allow kids to learn, play, have new experiences, and interact with other kids in person, instead of through a device. The simple fact that they will have less screen time is a benefit in itself for many parents.
To add to that, if an academic-based camp can help them maintain what they learned in school, they’ll return in the fall with confidence and a readiness to grasp new material. And while they may or may not have leaped ahead of their classmates, they will likely have gained a new level of enthusiasm for the subject, and chances are they’ll be more eager to learn when school begins.
4. What kind of reputation does the camp have?
Before you make a final decision on a camp, try to gain some insights about the people running it and the experience of previous campers. What is the camp’s history? Who is in charge and what are their credentials? What is the age, experience, and training of camp staff? Are there returning campers? Kids who had a good experience often want to repeat it the following year.
You can also learn a lot from online reviews and testimonials of former campers and their parents. Also don’t be afraid to ask the camp director questions such as “What does this camp offer that others don’t?” and “What assurance can you give that my child will thrive in your program?”
5. Will it work with your family’s schedule?
Finally, convenience can be a big deciding factor for busy families. Quite often there are two working parents in a family as well as multiple kids participating in different activities. In such cases it’s important for a camp to be flexible and not overly time intensive. Find out what types of enrolments are offered and what the hours are.
For kids who want to have fun while improving their math skills over the summer, Mathnasium offers Camp Mathnasium, a program specifically designed by education professionals to provide kids with an enriching summer math experience. Kids learn face-to-face with highly trained instructors, play innovative games, participate in group learning activities, and explore STEAM-related activities such as game theory, mathematical art, robotics, and coding. The camp is a great way for kids to have a blast keeping their math skills sharp for the next school year while opening up their minds to all the careers and opportunities that are made possible through math.
To learn about all the activities offered at Camp Mathnasium, and to enrol your child, contact your nearest Mathnasium Learning Centre.
Kristen Hampshire, Choosing a Summer Camp for Your K-8 Child, U.S. News & World Report, June 24, 2021
Apryl Duncan, Is an Academic Summer Camp Right for Your Child? Verywell Family, January 31, 2021