Camps are more than just a nice diversion for your kids — they can be places that create memories to last a lifetime.
Jeff Bradshaw, president of the Canadian Camping Association, says more important than the fun and friendship kids find at camp are the valuable life and social skills they come home with.
“Camps are a great way for parents to encourage their kids to be independent,” he said. “Kids come back from camp with enhanced life skills, and they learn critical thinking. You can’t help but be engaged in your environment when you’re at camp.”
Across Canada, there are more than 850 camps, which are accredited by their provincial camping associations. The number of campers they handle every year, while hard to measure exactly, number easily in the tens of thousands. While many camps do feature outdoor activities as their main program, a wide variety of camps for just about any activity can be found, such as computer camps, performing arts camps or even spirituality and leadership camps.
“There’s such a variety in the types of camps available, and in my experience, there are no two camps alike,” he said.
Before picking a camp, find out what your child wants to do and how they want to do it.
“Talk to your child about what interests them, where they’d like to go and for how long. Think: Is your child independent, do they like to go things alone, or would they prefer a friend to go along? It really comes down to knowing your child and making it very much a co-operative venture with your child,” Bradshaw said.
With the broad range of technology out there today, it’s often easy for technological fatigue to set in. A summer camp can get a kid connected back to what really matters — human interactions and tangible experiences that can last a lifetime.
“There’s a simplicity to (being at a camp) and it’s a disconnect from all the things we are plugged every day. Just that sensory change can be refreshing for kids and having that human connection is more and more crucial,” Bradshaw said.
Camp registration season is already underway, and you can get started by visiting the website of you provincial camping association where you’ll find comprehensive lists of all accredited camps available.
For information on your local camping association, visit ccamping.org.