For most, the arrival of spring stirs up excitement about rising temperatures but for others (read: Parents) it is a scary reminder that kids will soon be out of school with idle hands and minds.
Calgary-based Creative Kids director Anna Dunne said some parents call her about summer camps in December, but that’s not exactly necessary.
She explained most toddler day camps fill up faster than the week-long camps for six-to 10-year olds. This is because only 12 three- to five-year-olds are accepted for each day camp.
Another good reason not to wait too long to register, explained Dunne, is that camps are great ways to break up the routine for kids and parents in the summer.
Ryan Turner of Mad Science of the Maritimes in Halifax said camps allow kids to meet and become friends with others they wouldn’t have met otherwise.
“Our camps allow kids to make the connection between learning and fun at an early age,” he explained in an email, adding that kids come to his camp from all over the city and province for the love of science.
“Our camp is all about sparking and encouraging curiosity,” said Turner.
Picking the right camp for your child may be a challenge as there so many out there — science, music, sports and so on.
“It’s important to find your child’s passion area and then follow through and that will make their summer camp experience more exciting,” Dunne said.
“A camp should be like a treat or something special to get excited about, as opposed to something to get bored with or dread.”
What to do about the shy or nervous little ones?
“This happens every year and every year the child is fine by the end of the first day,” said Turner. “This is obviously an important step in a child’s development.”
Dunne said by school-age, most kids are familiar and comfortable with Mom or Dad leaving them for the day. It’s toddlers who haven’t all grasped the concept their parents will definitely return to pick them up at day’s end. She said some parents start young kids with half days to work up to full-day camps.
Also, sometimes it’s best for parents to just leave the room and let the camp instructors distract an upset child just being dropped off, said Dunne, and the majority of the time the toddler is fine within minutes.
Dunne and Turner note camp instructors have background checks, teacher training and at least one member on site has first aid training as well. Prices vary significantly for camps based on the duration, equipment provided and location.
It’s best to get your child involved in the decision-making process so your money isn’t wasted on a camp he of she never would have chosen if asked.