Summer Camps, many of us have been to them and probably even more of us send our children to them. They are sort of a tradition of summer and over the years has even morphed into an alternative to day care for working parents. The questions we struggle with every year are: Which camps are we going to do? How many can we really afford? Do we make them continue the same camps each year for tradition or do we let them switch around each summer? Day camps or over night camps? There are many more questions too but, those are our main ones.
Our older 3 children have gone to some sort of summer camp since they were 3 and they have loved every single camp we have sent them to. They all started with Vacation Bible School at our church which was perfect because it was only 3 days for 2-3 hours a day. Then, when they were 4 (our 2nd actually started when she was 3) they started going to camp through our local YMCA at KiciYapi, mainly because that is where I went as a child and loved it and we as a family really like to support our local YMCA. 2 years ago our son even moved on to their horse camp.
Then last summer our oldest, who was 8, wanted to experience his first overnight camp. My husband and I were nervous and wondering if he was too young however, because it was a camp my husband had grown up going to and our son was going with a friend, we felt it was ok. It was better than ok, our son had a blast and can't wait to go back this year and our 7 year old daughter is going to join him up there this year!
Now as our 3 older children are all in school, our summer camp options seem to have exploded! They all still go to some sort of day camp through our church, they all will continue that through 5th grade. But, now we have over night camps, horse camps, day camps, and various camps at their schools to sort through. If money was no object we would send them to any and all camps they wanted to go to but, obviously since money is always an object we need to sort through our finances and our options. We have 2 children that want to do a 'real' horse camp instead of just the one through the YMCA, we have another that wants to do a couple weeks of camp at her school with her friends, another child wants to do a camp at her school and they all want to do our local park program (which is FREE, thank goodness) and still find time to head up to the cabin, head to the local pool, get some true downtime for the children, and hopefully go on a family road trip somewhere this summer. All while my husband works full time and we still have the 'baby' who takes afternoon naps to work around.
I thought it might be easier to get a summer camp guide and read about all the camps but, WOW, there are a lot of different camps out there! I laugh because I know there are so many other pressing issues out there in the world but, for those of you with children too, you probably go through this to a degree each summer too. I am amazed and overjoyed we have so many options for our children for summer camps, everything from church camps to horse camps, foreign language camps to circus camps, 4 day camps to camps that run all summer, in our general area we have so many wonderful options to choose from and that is a good problem to have.
I suggest you go to your local YMCA and get details on their day and overnight camps for ages 4 all the way up to high school. I would also suggest you hit the Star Tribune's section they do each year on Summer Camps. I also have a summer camp guide from family times newspaper. Many cities and communities do some sort of camp too. As far as Minnesota goes, the world is our summer camp oyster.
By the way, just for those of you wondering, we haven't fully decided yet but, we are pretty sure our son and our oldest daughter will go to over night camp, our 2 older daughters will both do some sort of Spanish day camp, and as I said before, the older 3 are doing some sort of day camp at our church. Plus, all 3 will do our local Park Program too. As for our mainstay of day camp at the YMCA, jury is still out, I want them to continue but, they all want to try new things too. And the baby, well she will just have to wait a couple more years for her chance to do anything fun!
Here are some good summer camp links:
Have fun this summer!