Happy campers: Choosing a summer camp for your kids
- Written by Samantha Wong, 1 June 2017
With all the different summer activities on offer across DB and Lantau, how do you decide which will benefit your child the most? Samantha Wong reports.
If your kids are anything like mine they are starting to get beyond excited about the upcoming school holidays. We’ll be heading overseas for a stretch to see family and they say they are quite happy to do absolutely nothing for the rest of the break. But I’m not buying it. We tried that last year and hanging around at home and in the plaza simply didn’t do it for them – or their devoted and long- suffering Auntie. So this year, I’ve decided, we are going to enrol in some summer camps.
It seems to me that in choosing a summer camp for your children – with your children if they are old enough – making sure they are going to have lots of fun should be a first priority. And that at least should be easy enough to achieve. No matter which type of camp I choose, the kids will be given the opportunity to be busy and social, which is something they both secretly enjoy.
Hopefully too, away from the pressures and social hierarchies of school, they’ll be able to make new friends and, with the guidance of adult mentors, discover new things about themselves.
Selecting a camp
Generally speaking then, it’s safe to say that summer camp is going to be a fun experience for the kids but this gets me no closer to deciding on a specific course for them. Looked at one way the decision is simple. I’ll sign them up for an activity they already enjoy and give them the chance to focus on it, and get seriously good at it. True to gender stereotyping, my son is into martial arts and my daughter lives to dance, so that immediately narrows the field.
Game over, you might say, job done. But having thought about this a lot, I’m tempted to go the other way... sign the kids up for a course in something new and unexpected, something that will expand their horizons.
Neither of my kids are what you would call outdoorsy; they’re homebodies. When they’re not deep in their books, my daughter is hardwired to the computer and my son is glued to the TV. Any camp I choose will encourage them to unplug and get social, but I’m thinking one that’s based outdoors could be the way to go. So perhaps I’ll sign them up for a sports course. It would be good to see them being physically active but more than that, I’d like to see them simply spending time outdoors, connecting with nature in some way. They are always saying they aren’t interested in being outdoors, that they lack access and are uncomfortable, so maybe a few sessions on the playing field will put a stop to that. To keep things interesting (at least from my perspective), I’m also considering enrolling the kids in a classroom-based camp. I’ve read about the ‘summer slide’, where grade points are lost because of lack of tuition over the holidays, and I want to avoid it. There’ll be no ‘snoozing and losing’ at our house! Hopefully, an educational camp won’t be too dull for the kids. I’m told that these specialised, teacher-led summer courses make learning and problem-solving fun and interactive. As my son could also do with some extra tuition in Maths, this will kill two birds with one stone. So there’s my answer. We’ll plump for not one but six summer camps – the kids will each get to explore their favourite hobbies, try something new and keep up with their studies. It’s starting to look like a busy, productive and most importantly fun summer!
5 skills kids gain at summer camp
1 How to build personal relationships. Children learn to work with each other and their adult mentors, outside of the classroom and family unit. While building new friendships, they learn to navigate through group dynamics, manage conflict and accept guidance.
2. How to empathise. Placed in a new environment with new people, kids learn to value the kindnesses of others and they begin to give of themselves in return. In challenging situations, they learn to be sensitive and to support friends who are struggling.
3 How to work as a team. Children learn that to succeed, they must work together as part of a team. Rather than thinking only of themselves, they begin to see themselves as part of a community, and with this comes a valuable sense of acceptance and belonging.
4 How to enjoy new experiences. By putting themselves out there and trying new things, kids begin to understand what it takes to succeed in life. They develop decision-making skills to get themselves through challenging situations, and they grow in confidence and flexibility.
5 How to be resilient. By tackling an activity that pushes them outside their comfort zone, children come away with a stronger sense of personal pride and self-reliance. As they progress through a course, their confidence builds and they accomplish tasks that at first seemed impossible. All this builds strength of character, courage and determination.