When I was a youngster, sometime around Victoria Day weekend my parents moved the family out to a cottage near the village of Chateauguay on the banks of Lac St. Louis. We were there until Labor Day. (In those days school opened after Labor Day.) My brothers and sister and I enjoyed swimming and sailing lessons, the occasional dance as we got older, and the usual organized summer activities. Dad worked in Montreal and came out to the cottage in the evenings. Mother stayed at home and supervised us.
When we were bringing up our daughters, it was a bit trickier. We both worked. We had to find things for them to do, both to keep them occupied and to keep them from getting into mischief. A trip, a keyboarding course, and even some tutoring helped make those long summer days in Connecticut move along at a good clip.
Nowadays depending on where you live and the plans you have for your child's education, you have a variety of options to choose from. Let's look at some of them.
Basically, the idea behind a day camp is that you drop your children off in the morning and pick them up in the afternoon. The routine is similar to what you had when school was in session. The advantage to a day camp is that it is usually a local operation. If you are lucky enough to have an established day camp in your area and your children are young, it's worth considering. Make sure that the program has enough substance to it to be interesting and challenging. Ask around and make absolutely certain that the camp is well run.
This video describes a day at a YMCA summer day camp.
Day camps can be operated by churches and private schools as well as by community groups such as the YMCA/YWCA. The church camps will usually have a religious component to them. So be sure that's what you want. The cost? The American Camp Association shows a range of $300 and up per week for day camps. Not including the extras.
Overnight or sleep-away camps are a more expensive option than day camps. But just like with boarding schools, your child will get everything in one convenient package: the activities, meals, the supervision, and that wonderful intangible benefit - dozens of new best friends. A commercial overnight camp will cost $1000 and up for a session lasting 4 weeks.
This video describes Adirondack Camp's summer program.
Soccer camps, tennis camps, computer camps, music camps - the list is endless. These camps are usually residential camps. Typically they will be located on a college or private school campus. The programs offered to encompass several levels of coaching and instruction. Be sure to do your due diligence before paying your deposit. While these programs take place on a college or private school campus, they have no affiliation with the institution where their programs take place. All they are doing is renting the facilities. These camps cost $800 a week and up.
Remember when you failed a subject and you had to attend summer school to remediate that subject? Those kinds of academic sessions are still around. But the kind of summer school I have in mind is the sort of enrichment experience you can find at boarding schools all across the nation. For example, look at the extensive program that Phillips Exeter offers. Literally, there is something for every inclination and taste. Also, you can live on campus or commute to school daily. There are upper and lower school programs. Summer school sessions like these are a great way to introduce your child to the idea of going away to boarding school. Cost? $7500 and up for residential sessions. Less if day sessions. There are many variables.
This video explains the benefits of going to summer school.
If you need financial aid for a summer program, you will need to observe the special deadlines for submitting your application. Typically those deadlines will be January. If you don't need financial aid, you will still have to make decisions earlier than the deadlines, especially for very popular summer programs.
Companies like Adventures Cross-Country offered well-planned and fully chaperoned travel experiences for teens. If your teen has the self-confidence and experience gained over years of travel with you, this might be just the thing for the long summer vacation. These programs also offer language immersion and other emphases.
If you are like me, you will probably be worrying about all the things which can go wrong. That's not a bad thing. Anticipating issues before they occur is simply good parenting. Ask pointed questions. Inspect facilities. Speak to other parents. Have your attorney review any legalese before you sign. Due your due diligence. Trust your instincts. Don't be pressured into a commitment until you are comfortable with all aspects of the program you are thinking about.
Then let your child go and have the experience of a lifetime. Is that what summer is for?
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