Growing up, my childhood lacked exposure to summer camps, and I struggle to recall how I filled my days. My parents never enrolled me in such programs. Now, as a mother to three boys, I realized the challenges of having them at home all summer, especially dealing with the dynamics of three energetic boys 24/7. Recognizing my inability to entertain them for nine weeks straight, even as a stay-at-home mom, I found the idea of sending them to camp to be a practical and mutually beneficial solution. While they gained much from the experience, it was also a relief for me.
Sending children to camp isn’t merely about having someone “watch your kids.” The essence lies in motivating and stimulating them while ensuring they have fun. Over the years, my boys have participated in various camps, some they loved, others they disliked, and that’s perfectly acceptable. The range of activities has been diverse, spanning from soccer and gymnastics to cooking, art, science, and even city-run camps. Some camps were costly, while others were reasonably priced.
What excites me about sending my boys to camp is the wealth of experiences they gain. They get to try new activities, occasionally venturing into uncharted territories, and sometimes, they delve into areas they already know they love. The benefits extend beyond screen-free days and exposure to fresh air; they develop gross and fine motor skills, independence, responsibility for their belongings (despite the occasional losses), leadership skills, socialization, and the ability to function as part of a team.
The criterion for selecting the best camp for my boys has always been simple: did they have fun? Regardless of the specific camp, the ultimate factor was their enjoyment. While they might not emerge as the next Messi, Chef Ramsay, or Picasso, their interest and engagement were evident through the joy they derived. They learned to interact in a social setting without my presence, embraced responsibility and compassion, and discovered new aspects of themselves and their interests. This upcoming summer, my 16-year-old will be working at one of his favorite camps, my 14-year-old will volunteer at the same camp, and my youngest, at 10, will continue being a camper—all choices they made because of the fun they experienced.