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Today's Family Magazine

What type of camp will your child like?

By Cheryl Maguire
When I was young, I only had one choice for summer camp—the town camp –– a traditional, all-day, six-hour camp with a heavy emphasis on sports.  I was more of a bookworm than an athlete so this type of camp was not a good match for my personality.  I remember coming home every day whining to my mom, “It was so hot and all we did was play (fill in a sport).  Do I have to go to camp tomorrow?”  By the end of the summer, I’m sure my mom wished there were other options for me.

Now there are so many choices it can be overwhelming to figure out what type of camp would be a good fit for your child.  Hopefully, the following descriptions will help you to match your child with the correct camp so you hear your child tell you, “Camp was so much fun today,” instead of what my poor mother dealt with daily.
Traditional Day Camps
A traditional day camp is six hours (half day options may be available) and offers a variety of activities such as sports, swimming, art, and music. These camps are located at YMCAs, schools, or private settings.
Is this a good fit for your child?
Most of the activities are outside so if your child loves the outdoors and playing sports or team building activities then this would be a good type of camp for them.  Since there is a variety of activities this would also be a good fit for a child that likes to try different things.

Sports Camps
Specialty sports camps usually are one sport such as baseball or soccer that the child plays either for three or six hours.  Depending on where you live there may even be an option for tennis, golf, surfing or sailing camp.  This type of camp is typically owned by private organizations.  Some towns may have town operated sports camps.
Is this a good fit for your child?
If your child loves a specific sport and would like to improve their skills, this would be a great option.  It could even be a way for your child to try a sport such as surfing that they might not otherwise have exposure to it.
Art/Musical Theater Camps
Specialty art or musical theater camps focus solely on the arts. Musical theater camps typically showcase a production such as “Beauty and the Beast,” whereas in an art camp a child would use a variety of art mediums like painting or drawing. These type of camps are located in public schools or private organizations. In the public school setting the drama teacher usually runs the camp, and it isn’t widely advertised but it is available for anyone to participate.  To find out more information call schools in your area.
Is this a good fit for your child?
If your child is creative and prefers the indoors, then these types of camps would be worth looking into. It may be a good way to introduce the arts to your child since most of these camps are time-limited for one week.
Educational camps
An educational camp focuses on learning a new skill or subject matter.  Since it is camp and not school these types of camps tend to be hands-on with an emphasis on fun.  These camps are located in schools, museums, and colleges.
Is this a good fit for your child?
If your child is curious and always asking questions about how/why things work, this may be a good match for them.  If a child is interested in learning a new skill such as computer programming or speaking Spanish, some educational camps offer that as well.
Overnight Camps
Overnight camp is when your child lives at the camp for either a week or longer period.  There are Boy/Girl Scout camps and private residential camps.  These camps tend to offer options such as sailing, boating, archery, horseback riding and other activities that may not be available close to your home.

Is this a good fit for your child?
An overnight camp gives your child the chance to meet other kids from different states and countries.  There is also more time to do activities and foster independence compared to traditional day camps.