Let’s face it: choosing the best summer camp for our children can be quite a challenge. In fact, through the years, we have heard some of our parents saying that finding the best summer camp sounds just as challenging as choosing a college for their kids—and who can blame them? With so many summer camp options available nowadays, it takes an arm and a leg to finally pick one that’s best suitable for our child. Luckily for us today at The Vineyard, technology has been a great help at spreading out the good word about our camp as parents can now go to our website and our social media pages on Instagram and Facebook for inquiries. They also get to learn more information and updates from us should they come to the process of comparing several camps apples-to-apples. With us and the other camps’ presence on the internet, it becomes less daunting for parents to do the necessary research. We only want the best, safest, most enriching, and most memorable summer camp experience for our kids, and we are blessed enough to say that we have been instrumental in developing loving children with incredible Christian role models since 1983.
What should be your primary considerations?
How do you choose the best one?
What things do you need to prepare before setting out to choose the right summer camp?
There are many things to consider when choosing the best summer camps, and it is up to us parents to weigh the options between factors like programs, your child’s primary and potential interests, costs, dates, the reputation of camps, among others. That thought alone can be a bit taxing, and sometimes parents find themselves overwhelmed on which ones to prioritize more over the other.
Over the years at The Vineyard, we had the pleasure of talking to parents who can genuinely say that they have mastered the art of choosing the best summer camp for their kids, and so we thought of sharing what we’ve learned from them to you so that you will find it easier to decide on the best one.
It Starts with You
It is your job to assess and set the right expectations upon you and your child. Ask the important questions:
Is my kid ready for a summer camp?
What are his/ her aspirations for the school break?
Which one should I consider-- Day Camp or Night Camp?
What summer camp experiences do they hope to explore?
When you are clear with the answers to these questions, only then can you start ‘researching’ on which camps you can tap. You know your child better than anyone else, so upon knowing all the things your child aspires from a summer camp, you now have to count on your instinct on what you think should be the most valuable takeaways your child should gain from the experience. As parents, we want something that transforms our kids into better individuals, so beyond just fun, we want a camp that instills values. For example, we at The Vineyard are a faith-oriented camp, so expect our approach to be dedicated to honoring God and appreciating Him. We are more than just a sports camp. The Vineyard is a ministry dedicated to relationships and discipleship. From the beginning, it has been our threefold goal to share God’s love, demonstrate (through the lives of our staff) holy living, and explain the challenge of discipleship. Most of our campers come from Christian backgrounds (Catholic and Protestant), but a child of any spiritual conviction is welcomed.
Your Child’s Interest
Now that you’ve answered the fundamental questions, it is now time to assess your child’s interests. What types of summer camps are out there? In a nutshell, we have academic camps that are geared towards honing your child’s interests in subjects like music, art, science, technology, etc. They are focused on building subject-centered skills. Then we have the traditional camps focused on character-building as kids set out on a great summer adventure in the outdoors with challenges that develop their confidence and mastery on specific skills. We also have athletic camps for kids who have a knack in sports.
What areas is your child good at?
What keeps them excited?
What activities do you think he/she has some inclination on, and what underlying skills and talents would your child potentially have?
More than anything, summer camps are an excellent tool for a child’s self-appreciation and self-exploration.
Research. Research. LOTS of Research.
Your information hunt starts with your closest circle: YOUR FRIENDS! Whether they are friends from work, your child’s friend’s parents, church mates, or what have you, it pays to ask around from people you personally know. Which camps do they send their kids to? What factors led them to choose that specific camp? How was their child’s experience?
Your next, and probably the easiest bet is to research online, and with that, Google might possibly be your best friend. Start with keywords ‘summer camp’ and your perhaps your kid’s interests. Check on their websites and social media pages and learn about them thoroughly. Check on reviews, news, announcements—and don’t forget to take notes as you will be comparing them all as soon as you narrow down to the ones you like.
Should there be local camp fairs available in your area, go the extra mile and attend them with your child. If the camp happens to be accessible, go right ahead and take a tour. Ask your kid where his/her friends which summer camp they are joining. There’s nothing more exciting for your kid than to go to the same camp together with his friends.
It’s Now Time to Compare
The most exciting part is the judging part. Be open to your child and to the rest of the family about the criteria that are most important to you in choosing the best camp for him/her. After all, you are sending away your child to the most meaningful, most enriching experience for this summer, and that is an important family decision.
Compare courses, camp experiences, schedules, reviews. Set out how much budget you can spare for your child’s camp. Talk about the most important takeaways you want your child to gain after camp. Most importantly, ask yourself: what is in these camps that will make my child become the best version of himself/ herself. Seek guidance from friends, mentors, fellow parents-- and don’t be afraid to ask for personal recommendations so you can choose wisely.
There is NOTHING to fear about coming up with a final decision. Why? Because all camps have their special vision and purpose. It goes without saying, all summer camps pose an opportunity for your child to self-discovery, and that is, above all, a good thing. You went through all the steps in choosing the best camp, and that means you are several levels higher to understanding your child even better. You have covered all the corners, and now it’s time to choose fearlessly. True, your child may be on to extra-ordinary challenges that will push him/ her to the limits, but that only makes them stronger and better.
At the Vineyard, our purpose and mission are to teach children and youth about God, His love for them, and Christ’s call to discipleship. Do you know that we were once featured on the largest television station in Europe (TF1) as “America’s Camp”? We do not claim to be the best one-- but after thousands of happy campers throughout the years, there is a special reason why they call us their favorite place on earth. The Vineyard, is a holy haven where youth are introduced to God’s love. Let your kid experience that! Camp sessions for 2020 are up--Check them out and register today!