Twenty years from now, your kid is very unlikely to say:
“I remember the summer of 2016. That camp had
the most amazing bouncy castles.”
However, they might say something like:
“I remember that summer – that’s when Tristan and I first became friends. It took me all summer to learn to start a fire using only flint & steel, but I was so proud when I finally did it.”
Camp is not really about the bouncy castles.
It turns out, if you google “benefits of attending summer camp” or something similar, you’ll find that all the research that has been done (and there’s quite a bit!) indicates that the actual activities that an individual camp offers has very little to do with the long-term benefits of attending.
“At camp, children learn to problem-solve, make social adjustments to new and different people, learn responsibility, and gain new skills to increase their self-esteem.”
“The building blocks of self-esteem are belonging, learning, and contributing. Camps offer unique opportunities for children to succeed in these three vital areas and even beyond home and school.”
It’s not about the archery or the lasers or even the swimming pool. While a camp must of course have a quality schedule capable of holding your child’s interest, those aren’t the things that will have a lasting impression. This isn’t where the magic is.
Camp has much more importance in your child’s development than the bells & whistles they offer
The power that a camp has to make a difference in the life of a child is in the power of community. A true camp environment will help your child to develop independence, confidence, resilience, social skills, and conflict resolution, to name just a few.
Given the nature of these life-long skills… do you think those skills will develop more fully when bouncing from camp to camp, or when taking root in a family-oriented, development-focused environment? Will your child build more social confidence by moving from program to program, or by spending 8 weeks with the same cohort of kids, under the careful guidance of the same counselor & role model?
I can see why parents would choose to “break up” the summer by enrolling their children in a variety of different programs. There is certainly something to be said for providing a wide range of experiences. But will your child get the most long-term benefit from that arrangement?