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Summer Camp Round-Up: How was your summer camp experience?

September 10, 2010

Now that the kids have all gone back to school, summer camp seems like an eon away.  But it will be back in a flash, before we parents even know it!  Sign Up For Camp asked parents what the camp season was like for them and their families this past summer.  Let’s see what they learned about this past camp season, what they’d do again and how they might change it up for next year.

One thing we know for certain is that our parent community counts on sending their kids to camp during the summer to provide stimulation and new learning opportunities, as well as childcare.  With so many dual-income families in the city, the childcare aspect cannot go unnoticed, and those children whose parents both work attended some sort of camp at least five of the 12 weeks of summer, while others attended camp every single week.

The answers to my subsequent questions were as diverse as the number of camps available.  Firstly, I asked, “When choosing camps for your child, did you mix it up or remain somewhat streamlined, sending her or him to the same camp week after week.”  All of our responders sent their kids to more than one type of camp, with some attending as many as six different types.  “My boys went to a variety of camps and this way they never got bored,” wrote one mom, while another said, “Surprisingly, my son loved all [the camps] and didn’t mind moving around.  It was a little harder on me, but…I’d do it again.”

Reading the responses, I was amazed myself at what’s out there and how specific you can be in your focus.  Of course there are oodles of great play-based camps, which are perfect for the child who likes a little bit of everything, and fantastic single-activity camps, like the various sports, art and nature camps.  Most of our parent responders did a little bit of the above, but they also ventured into highly specific areas of focus, like hiking, rock climbing, biking, flight and rocketry, farm and garden, science, movie-making, marine biology and ecology, rock band and fly-fishing.  As an avid camper in the 1970s and 80s, none of these was available to me, and I marvel at the choices out there today.  Ahhh, to be a kid again…

Secondly, I asked parents if they think they made the right choices for their children, and I received a variety of responses here, too.  One trend I found interesting is that parents whose children attended play-based camps, which offer kids a variety of fun activities over the course of each day (outdoor games, arts & crafts, nature programs, field trips), MAY be more inclined to send them to more focused camps in the future.  And the parents whose children attended ONLY camps where a single activity was explored with intensity will do so again next year.  Only one parent suggested he may reduce the variety of camps next year and instead streamline by sending his kids to more weeks of the same camp and increasing time with family and a childcare provider.  The reason for this is, he wrote, “Each camp has a different drop-off/pick-up time, location, routine, age group, etc.  So when the kids do one-week camps, you have to re-learn a new routine each week.  Very stressful!”

Which brings us to the final question I asked our parents about how they experienced the actual scheduling process. Most parents said that researching the various options was “overwhelming” and “time consuming,” and that “scheduling is definitely a pain.” Really!  What fun is that?

At Sign Up For Camp, our effort to mitigate that nightmare is ongoing.  We are adding new free listings to our website everyday to enhance the database of camps available for parents’ to peruse.  So, please, if your son or daughter attended a camp that you think should be on Sign Up For Camp, send us an email at and we will add a free camp listing.  Further, we hope to be able to provide registration opportunities directly from our website next year, and that effort is also ongoing.  The goal for Sign Up For Camp is to be the most comprehensive tool possible for parents to more easily plan their children’s summer.

So, what do you think?  In retrospect, did YOU make the right choices for your child(ren) and yourself?  Or will you be inclined to try a different strategy next year?  The camps available in the Bay Area truly do run the gamut, and it behooves us all to talk to each other and use Sign Up For Camp, so we can make our lives a little easier and our children’s summer more fun.

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