By Christina Campbell
Ida Thomas, interim senior vice president of association support and development at YMCA Canada, understands why day camps appeal to so many parents.
“First and foremost they’re looking for a safe, supervised environment, but they’re also looking for a fun setting that engages their children and builds self-esteem and—probably the best thing about camp—friendships.”
Day camp programming can range from traditional camp activities like canoeing and crafting to more specifically geared pursuits like music, robotics or horseback riding. While some kids might try a variety of different programs throughout the summer, others will stick to one and really work at developing a specific skill, like hockey. But the difference between day camp and school, insists Thomas, is the focus on play. “We know kids learn through play, and day camp gives them the environment to do both.”
Many parents use day camp as a stepping stone for preparing their kids for an overnight camp the following summer. While some day camps might even incorporate one overnight stay, most will do a good job of setting the stage. “Camp is all about building self-confidence, forming new relationships and developing skills.” If children can do that at day camp, she says, it’ll be that much easier to transition to overnight camp.
The Lowdown on Day Camp
• Most day camps operate on a Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule and typically accommodate campers between the ages of 5 and 12.
• Fees for a one-week program can range from $175″“$300. Additional charges for before- and after-camp care, specialized equipment or food are sometimes applicable.
• Counsellors are almost always required to have first aid training and are typically coached
in child development and discipline techniques. Counsellor-to-camper ratios can be as low as 1:1 (for special needs situations) and as high as 1:12 (for older kids).
• Although your city’s parks and rec department, along with national organizations like the YMCA, host scores of local day camps, there are many more possibilities outside of these resources. Dance studios, cooking schools, sports leagues, churches and golf courses are just a few places to consider when searching for a day camp that fits your child’s interests.
What A Day Camper Says
“My favourite memory from camp was playing ‘Save the Counsellor’ for the first time-it’s a game where you try to splash your counsellors. I also loved watching the photo slide show at the end of each week that showed everything that had happened.” – Emma, 12, attended Langara Family YMCA Adventure Camp in Vancouver.