Programs help kids avoid academic summer slide'

Posted at 3:13 PM, Mar 23, 2016

As spring fosters warm weather, it also reminds us to start making summer plans. Typically, those plans include camp for the youngsters.

Whereas in years past when summer camp meant a version reminiscent of “Meatballs,” the movie, summer camp today means so much more.

According to the American Camp Association (ACA), the options have blossomed over the past 20 years with a focus on nearly anything one can imagine, including choices such as family camp, day camp, overnight camp, trip and travel camp, special-needs camp, sports camp and others. Now, more than five million children attend the 2,400 camps that are accredited by the association.

As parents look for ways to enhance their children’s learning curve, the number of day camps has increased. Last summer, enrollment at day camps increased by 42 percent among campers below the age of 10 compared with the previous year, according to the ACA.

And for good reason, too.

According to the Review of Educational Research, most students lose two months of math skills during summer break from school.  That’s why some parents have begun using time off from school as a way to improve their children’s way of life.

According to Peterson’s, an education guidance program for higher education, summer education programs are “one of the many building blocks that create an adult.”

Camps give kids an opportunity to learn in an entirely different way than during the school year.

According to the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, a large gap exists between what students learn in school and certain “real-world” skills — communication, collaboration, creativity, leadership, socialization, and problem solving. Many of these are developed and improved during summer camps and programs.

There are many options for educational summer camps that will excite your child, such as STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) camp that includes robotics building and rocket launching, writing camp, sports camp, or camps like Little Captains that are based on a different and exciting theme each week.

There are also overnight educational summer camps for teens who can broaden their education or earn credits over the summer by taking math, English, physics, history, creative writing, music and others. They can also tap into what really inspires them and spend their afternoon enjoying marine science, sailing, scuba diving, or paddle boarding.

In addition, most summer camps and programs offer much-needed free time for children to play sports, indoor and outdoor games, movies, swimming, and sailing.  It’s a way to simply interact with their peers in face-to-face settings, as opposed to being buried in technology.

Overnight camps may also include day trips to beaches, amusement parks, shopping, and even whitewater rafting and zip lining.

The free time to interact and socialize often gives children the best components to growing up with confidence.

Summer camps help kids get out of their comfort zone, challenge them, and help them grow. They’re one of the few places where kids can make friends from all over the world while learning other cultures and attitudes.

According to the ACA, 92 percent of kids who attend camp say that the people at camp helped them feel good about themselves. In addition, the American Academy of Pediatrics reports free, unstructured time is healthy and essential in a child’s emotional and social development, as well as in stress management.

In other words, summer camps and programs nurture the whole child, not just the intellect, providing one of the greatest learning arenas kids can experience in a supportive environment.

Another important step in choosing a camp is cost.

According to the ACA Business Report, resident camp averages $690 per week with some being registered as high as $2,000-plus a week. Day camps are obviously lower and run anywhere from $150 a week to $500-plus per week, depending on what activity you choose.

Fortunately, a majority of camps offer financial assistance to children for low-income families, military families or families with special-needs situations that might preclude them from attending the camp in full. It’s always good to ask even if a camp’s website doesn’t specifically mention discounts or financial assistance.

So, while the birds begin to chirp and the flowers begin to bloom, get busy prepping for what could be the best summer ever in your child’s life.