This morning at 8:15 am, my 10-year-old son grabbed his backpack and hopped on the bus, ready and excited, to day camp. Although many of his friends have decided to go to a sleepaway camp, my son prefers to be at camp all day and then sleep in his own bed at night.
I think sleepaway camp is great. My daughters have gone for years and it has been an amazing experience for them.
But I’m not unhappy, in fact I could say I’m very happy, that my son has chosen not to go. My husband and I didn’t go to sleepaway camp and we don’t believe that it is right for all kids – especially if it isn’t something they are clamoring to do.
Here are 8 reasons I love day camp:
- The bus
No carpool line or running toward a bus that has pulled away. The bus comes right to the door. Such a relaxing way to start the day!
- The wide variety of activities
During the school year there is a limited amount of free time. Most team sports require a certain level of commitment so my son is limited to two sports a season. During camp, there is no limit. He plays hockey, rollerblades, rock climbs, etc – tons of things he never has an opportunity to do during the school year.
- The swim program
The first few years I sent my son to camp he was a tentative swimmer. He was one of the last in his group to get his deep-water swim bracelet. But the swim instructors worked with him a lot until his skills improved. Swimming is a life skill and knowing my son is a competent swimmer gives me peace of mind.
- No packing lunches
Many day camps, including my son’s, provide lunch for all campers. During the school year my son sticks to the same three bagged lunches, but at camp he’s open to occasionally trying something new. Eight weeks without having to make him lunch (and worry that I am out of turkey) is a vacation to me.
- Camper Confidence
Having grown up at camp my son feels very confident to be one of the big men on camp-us. It is his happy place. He knows many of the kids and staff and they know him. He looks forward to the traditional events year after year like Olympics and the trip to Camel Back Beach. And having has his camp buddies – a group of kids that he does not usually see during the school year – makes the summertime special.
- Busy Day
I have to admit, I am just not as creative as camp. I can think of fun things to do, but I am not sure I could do it as well as camp does five days a week for eight weeks.
- Camp Directors and Staff
From the bus counselor that greets my son every morning to the Unit Leader, to the Director — everyone on staff has the same goal for my son as I do. Safety is always first and having fun is a very close second. During the school year I try to live by the “you get what you get” rule but at camp, I do ask for my son to be in a group with his friends and the request is accommodated.
- Nights and Weekends
I wouldn’t stop my son from going to sleepaway if he wanted to go, but I would miss hanging out with him. I just love seeing his smiling face as he walks off the bus and hearing all about his day. While he’s at camp, I get all my work done and also have some alone time so when he is arrives home I can shut off the cell phone and give him my undivided attention. I embrace the free unscheduled time we have in the evenings and on weekends to play outside, get ice cream, go to a ball game, and enjoy time together.