IT'S MID-JUNE. The kids will be out of school soon. How do you feel about that?
Chances are, you’ve got some mixed emotions. On one hand, you’re probably excited for more quality time with the kids–going for hikes, lounging at the beach, swimming at Peter Kirk Pool and indulging in yummy frozen treats.
On the other hand, you’ll have a lot of time to fill with your kids at home. And you’ll have a lot less time to yourself than you’re used to.
“Summers are really hard,” a Kirkland mom-friend told me recently. “When you’re used to having them in school for a good part of the day, having them home all day every day is a lot. They get bored and look to you for entertainment. We try to stay busy. But it’s really hard.”
Now that summer vacation is just around the corner, if you’ve started to panic about what you’re going to do with the kids, consider signing them up for a camp or two. As the American Camping Association used to say, “camp gives kids a world of good.” In many ways, that is true.
Good camps create an environment of inclusion and cooperation, where all participants are made to feel like they belong and that they have a unique contribution to make to the community. Camps teach kids about being part of a community, which means working with others to accomplish tasks ranging from creating a skit or winning capture the flag, to cleaning up after snack and arriving at the pool on time. Kids develop social skills, self-confidence and self-sufficiency, while exercising, making friends and learning new skills taught in the program–could be something as simple as kickball and tag, or as specialized as windsurfing and science. Most important, camp is tons of fun.
There are hundreds of different camp programs, ranging from day camps here in Kirkland to overnight camps nearby–and around the world. It may be too late for some programs, but others still have space.
The American Camping Association provides accreditation for camps to ensure they are using established best practices for safety, supervision, programming, staffing and facility management. They also provide resources for parents, including a camp search database and articles about what to look for when selecting a camp, even if the camp isn’t accredited. Just like when you select any school or caregiver for your child, investigating a potential camp to make sure it’s well-run and a good fit for your child is essential.
Here is one article provided by the ACA that may be helpful in that process. http://www.acacamps.org/content/tip-week-american-camp-association-14.
Beyond formal camps, many local organizations offer “camp” programs during the summer, providing a number of local options to get the kids out of the house, learning new skills, making friends and giving you a little time while school is out. Here are just a few options for you to explore:
Kirkland Parks offers dozens of summer day camp programs, many of which still have space. From tennis, chess and cheerleading camps to more traditional summer programs featuring swimming, games, and arts and crafts, Kirkland Parks has it all. There are spaces still available for camp programs catering to kids ages 3 through teen. Go to www.kirklandparks.net for more information and to register.
offers 12 one-week summer camp sessions for kids ranging in age from preschool to school-age. Sessions vary in topics from ancient Egypt and the wilderness, to sports and art.http://www.kindercare.com/our-programs/camps/summer/
offers Summer Sports Camps for school-aged kids a variety of summer camp sessions to help them hone their skills and have fun with friends. Sessions are held at the school’s Kirkland campus and range from basketball and soccer, to speed and strength and volleyball. http://www.northwestu.edu/news/2011/summer-sports-camps/
Elite Martial Arts and Family Success Center offers Kirkland Elite Summer Camp for kids ages 5-13. Full-day and half-day programs include a wide range of activities from martial arts and gymnastics, to swimming, games and crafts, to keep kids entertained. http://kirklandsummercamp.com/about_summer_camp.html
offers five weeks of Summer Arts Camps for kids aged 5-7 and 8-11. Sessions focus on visual arts disciplines such as people and portraits, animals and nature, magic and global art. http://www.kirklandartscenter.org/education/summerartcamps.php
offers eight weeks of themed gymnastics camps featuring gymnastics as well as a host of traditional summer camp activities including swimming, crafts and games. Half-day and full-day sessions are available for kids ages 2 ½-12. http://nwaerials.com/docs/2011%20Summer%20Camp%20Flyer.pdf
offers three-day Jump-N-Art sessions throughout the summer for kids 5-12. During the 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. program days, kids enjoy both jumping on Pump-it-Ups giant inflatables and expressing their inner artist through art instruction and activities in the fine arts. http://www.pumpitupparty.com/party-packages/-p4q58q7319.htm
offers a wide range of four-day camp sessions, including half-day Junior Summer Camps for 3-5-year-olds, and full-day Summer Camps for kids aged 5-12. Themed sessions range from crafts and gymnastics, to sports and crafts. http://columbiaathletic.com/newsletters/JB%20Spring_Summer%20Guide%205_11.pdf
Other local camp programs include:
Wilderness Awareness School http://www.wildernessawareness.org/youth/summer_camps.html
Advantage Basketball Camp http://www.advantagebasketball.com/
Summer Adventures Day Camp http://summeradventuresdaycamp.com/
In addition, many churches offer Vacation Bible Schools. Check your church, or a church near you to see what they offer.
So, give your kids a world of good with a summer camp experience–and give yourself a break this summer, too!