DFW Camp Expo

Do People Still Send Their Kids to Summer Camp in 2024?

Do people still send their kids to summer camp? The answer is a firm ‘yes!’

Many kids still go to summer camps, from more traditional overnight camps to full or half-day camps. 

The truth is that many kids attend some summer camp each year – but not all are like the ones we see on TV. Types can range from week/multi-week sleepaway camps to full/half-day camps based on interest or even classes that might meet two or three times a week. 

Do people still send their kids to summer camp? 

Some parents may choose a month-long sleepaway camp for their child. Often, kids attend these camps year after year, making lifelong friends and memories well into their teen years. Others may opt for interest-based programs like culinaryacademics, or theater camps. Many organizations and churches also offer week-long camps chaperoned by vetted counselors.  

Why do parents send their kids to summer camp? 

If you’re searching online for ‘Do people still send their kids to summer camp?’ the next logical thing you’d want to know is why.

There are a ton of reasons why parents choose to send their kids to summer camp. Here are just a few:

      • New experiences. Parents send their kids to summer camp to get experiences that may not be available during the rest of the year. Even learning a new craft or singing a new song can open a child’s eyes and unleash new interests.

        • Social and emotional development. Camps provide the chance for kids to develop new friendships and build confidence in their abilities to meet people different from them.

          • Develop confidence. Kids learn that there are other safe places than home, giving them the confidence to go into the world knowing they can successfully communicate and interact with new people and in new environments.

        What do parents look for in a summer camp? 

        Combining kids’ unique personalities with a family’s values, budget, and childcare is usually at the top of the list of what most parents look for in a summer camp.

        Program quality is another important factor to consider. Take into consideration the camp’s overall reputation, its staffing policies, whether it comes recommended, and what activities it offers.

        What is the best age to send kids to summer camp? 

        When determining the best age to send kids to summer camp, first discover what types of camps they’re interested in. A music or art camp that meets a few hours each will work for preschool and early elementary kids, but a sleepaway camp is best reserved for children in later elementary school to high school. 

        If you’re thinking about a day camp, consider if your child:

            • Transitions easily to other adults 

            • Successfully attends other programs (such as Sunday school, preschool, or daycare)

            • Can advocate for themselves and ask others for help (needing to use the bathroom, getting a bandaid, etc.)

          For overnight camps, ask yourself:

              • Has your child had sleepovers or long weekends away from you?

              • Are sleepovers enjoyable for them, or do they get anxious?

              • Do they feel comfortable meeting new friends?

            How long are most summer camps for kids?

            Another common question we get is, ‘How long are most summer camps for kids?’

            Camp lengths vary depending on what you’re looking for. Most day camps run by the week, and some even let you pick certain days for your child to attend each week. 

            Here’s a rundown of typical camp lengths:

            Type of Camp Typical Length
            Interest-based day camps (music, art, athletics, etc.) 3-8 hours per day; Mon-Fri**some may allow you to choose a few days instead of the whole week
            Adventure and childcare day camps 7-9* hours per day; Mon-Fri*some may have before/after camp care for an additional cost
            Non-profit overnight camps (church, YMCA, etc.) 3-7 days
            In or out-of-state sleepaway camps 1-9 week sessions

            How do I prepare my child for summer camp?

            So, you’ve decided to be one of those awesome parents who send their kids to summer camp; now it’s time to prepare!

            Whether they will be going to a local art camp three hours a day or heading off to a multi-week sleepaway camp on the other side of the state, you’ll likely get a list of items from the camp detailing what your camper will need to bring. 

            There are a few other things you can do to make the transition to summer camp a smooth process:

                • Look ahead. Don’t wait until the day before to review the camp’s “what to bring” list, as you may need to buy a few things depending on how extensive it is. Be sure to check sunscreen expiration dates and flashlight batteries, try on clothes to ensure they still fit, and, if applicable, pack those healthy summer camp lunches. You don’t want their first nature hike to be cut short because of painful blisters or a bad sunburn!

                  • Shop and pack together. Get them involved with the decision-making about what to pack, what outfits to wear, etc. This will help them know what to expect when they open their duffle bag, increase responsibility for their items because they know what’s inside, and give you another chance to be sure they haven’t “accidentally” included any unnecessary or banned items.

                    • Label everything. Classic iron-on or stick-on clothing labels or laundry pens are great for clothes. Dishwasher-safe vinyl labels can be used for toiletries, flashlights, lunch boxes, water bottles, etc. Your child WILL misplace or forget something at camp. Labeling everything (yes, EVERYTHING) will ensure their items still make it back home.

                      • Manage their expectations and emotions. Look together at the camp’s website, pictures, and videos so they can visually prepare for the layout and activities. Have lots of talks about not only what they will get to do at camp but how they can expect to feel. If this is their first time away, missing home is normal, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still have fun. 

                        • Manage YOUR emotions. Whether you’re sending your little one to a sports camp at the local high school or a sleepaway camp, it’s normal for us parents to have our own set of jitters. Take care to avoid projecting any negative emotions onto your child. Reassure yourself that the investment in their social and emotional development will only benefit them

                      Advice from one parent to another:

                      Personally, I try to make the most of my daughter’s time at summer camp by tackling my to-do list and planning self-care activities like a pedicure, lunch with a friend, or grocery shopping by myself! 

                      If your kids are gone overnight, take the opportunity to do something special with your partner, like a date night, a mini-vacation of their own, or even just an uninterrupted conversation. 

                      Whatever route you choose, be confident in your selection and in your child’s ability to succeed because, yes, people still send their kids to camp, and yes, you can, too!