Summer camp is an immersive and enriching experience for children, but it can also feel scary when your child is going away for the first time. Every individual is different, but there are some key things you can look for to determine whether your child is ready for their first summer of camp.

The Typical Age for Summer Camps

A child kicking a soccer ball during summer camp.

Children can usually start attending a summer day camp at around 5 years old when they’re between preschool and kindergarten. For these young attendees, it’s often best to start with a half-day camp that meets only in the mornings or afternoons. After attending their first year of summer camp, children may be ready for a full-day camp experience. Children may be comfortable with a brief overnight camp  around the age of seven. It’s usually best to hold off on overnight camps of a week or more until your child is closer to 9 years old.

Signs of Readiness for Summer Camp

While the above guidelines provide some generalized suggestions for children of different ages, it’s important to note that every child is unique. An experience that feels overwhelming to one 5-year-old may be pure fun and excitement to another. You know your child best. Kids are typically ready for day camp if they:

  • Can use the toilet and wash their hands independently.
  • Communicate effectively with peers and adults.
  • Resolve conflicts with other children independently.
  • Follow simple instructions well.
  • Exhibit excitement at the prospect of camp activities.

Going to an overnight camp is a much bigger commitment. Your child may be ready to stay away from home at camp if they:

  • Are comfortable spending the night away from you.
  • Can perform all hygiene tasks independently, including showering, combing their hair, brushing their teeth, and flossing.
  • Are comfortable visiting new places independently.
  • Show enthusiasm for meeting new people and having new experiences.
  • Express interest in staying at an overnight camp.

Our day camps at Crème de la Crème are a great stepping stone to overnight camps that your child may attend in the future. We welcome children up to age 12, at which time most kids are well equipped to advance to an overnight camp experience.

What To Look For in a Summer Camp

Choose your summer camp with care. Your child will spend hours of their day in this environment so you want to make sure it’s safe, friendly, and enriching for them. When you’re exploring different camp options, there are some important questions you can ask.

Are the Children Separated by Age? 

It’s usually best if children are separated for at least part of the day, especially if there’s a large age gap between the youngest and oldest kids. At Crème de la Crème, we maintain separate playgrounds and activities so your child is always in an environment that’s appropriate to their developmental level.

How Many Children Are in My Child’s Group?

Look for a camp where your child will have at least four or five peers to interact with. A child can feel uncomfortable and out of place if they’re the only one of their age. It’s best if the child-to-instructor ratio is 18:1 or lower.

What Activities Are Available?

Summer camp should be an enriching experience where children have the opportunity to learn new things and have exciting experiences. While the best summer camps are indeed educational, they’re not overtly so. Camp shouldn’t feel like school — it’s a vacation. At Crème de la Crème, we host STEAM activities, theater programs, culinary education, creative movement classes, robotics programs, and more. This ensures that there’s always something new and interesting for kids to explore.

The Benefits of Summer Camp

If this is your first time sending your child to summer camp, it’s only natural that it will feel a bit overwhelming. You may be concerned about how your child will feel about being away from home for the day. Rest assured that summer camp is typically a wonderful experience for kids with a wealth of benefits that they can enjoy.

New Friendships

Summer camp provides a great opportunity for your child to meet new people. If your child is of preschool or kindergarten age and attending camp for the first time, they may even meet some of the children who will become their classmates during the upcoming school year. We have lots of activities at Crème de la Crème that encourage kids to interact, team up, and get to know one another, such as bowling, basketball, soccer, and kickball.

Independent Development

At summer camp, your child has the opportunity to experience a new level of independence. While school is highly structured, summer camp provides more opportunities for child-led play. 

Fun Learning Opportunities

Children can learn a lot at summer camp, and the best part is that the activities are so fun they won’t realize they’re also educational. Children learn about different cultures in our culinary education classes, practice coding through iPad games, and participate in role-playing through the theater program.

Physical Activity and Play

Children need to stay active throughout their vacation. At summer camp, they have lots of opportunities to get up and move. Crème de la Crème features playgrounds, sports fields, and even its own water park. You won’t have to worry about a sedentary break when your children are at this kind of camp.

How To Help Young Children Adjust to Summer Camp

If your child is anxious about camp, take them along on a tour of the facility before you sign up. Getting a sneak peek at what’s ahead can ease many fears. You can also share stories about your own camp experiences with your child to provide real-world examples of how good it feels to try something new and overcome fears.

If you have more questions about summer camp, our team at Crème de la Crème is happy to help. Contact us to schedule a tour of your nearest campus so you can see the benefits of our summer camp programs in person. We can’t wait to meet your family.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash