Day camps offer families an endless array of appealing and affordable summer options.
Thousands of kids will head to camp this summer, but not all of them will be packing trunks and sewing labels into their clothes. In fact, the majority of campers will be day campers or commuter campers, enjoying the benefits of camp by day and the comforts of home in the evenings.
Families choose day camps over residential programs for a variety of reasons. Many young children aren’t yet ready to spend long periods of time away from home. They may suffer from separation anxiety or homesickness. Or, they may be unable to care for their own daily routine — getting themselves up and dressed, choosing healthy meals, calming down for a good night’s sleep — without help from their parents.
Day camp may also be a better option financially for some families, since day programs are usually less expensive than their sleepaway counterparts.
Whatever their reasons for choosing day camps, participants reap numerous benefits. With the variety of programming options available, campers can schedule their summers in a way that allows them to experience different themes or activities every week or even, for the very adventurous, every day. This flexibility allows curious campers to try new things without fear; if they don’t enjoy a particular activity, chances are, they’ll be on to something new before they can say, “Let’s play a different game.” Day camps also allow children to make lots of new friends. Unlike residential camps, where the new friends may live in far-flung places, day camp friends are usually from nearby.
With school re-districting legislation and private school enrollment at all-time highs, children who live in the same neighborhood don’t necessarily know each other! Community programs and day camps allow campers to meet and mingle with other local kids who share similar interests. The friends they make may live close enough that — even if they attend different schools during the school year, the relationship can grow and thrive.
Plenty of campers who enjoy residential camp also attend day camps. Many families mix the two during the summer months to provide children with the most enjoyable and challenging schedule possible. Parents want their kids to be entertained and educated during the summer months, but they don’t want to send them packing for weeks on end. A blend of sleepaway and commuter programming offers the best of both worlds.
Some forms of summer camp are considered daycare by the IRS. Consult your financial adviser or tax planner to find out if a portion of your summer camp expenses can be reimbursed through a flexible spending account or applied toward a tax credit or deduction.
Medical Forms for Camp
Read the medical forms for your camp before submitting to your doctor. Some camps require current physicals (within the last 6 or 12 months). If your child hasn’t had a physical, you should schedule an appointment as soon as possible.
Physicians have many forms to complete before the start of camps. Parents should be sure to submit forms as early as possible and should know their doctor’s policy on form completion.
Click here to search Chesapeake Family’s Day Care Directory packed with hundreds of day camp listings.
Cathy Ashby is a former camp director and camp counselor.