The first day of spring is March 20 and school’s in session for a couple more months, but parents across the area are looking now for their children’s summer activities.
Some kids will need full-time care, others will take use the summer months to brush up on academic skills and delve deeper into existing hobbies or explore new ones.
In much of February, summer camp and class providers across the region have listed their summer listings into The Charlotte Observer’s database. We’ve edited the entries and put them online in searchable form to make your hunt for summer camps easier and more efficient.
A sampling of the Charlotte Observer’s 2016 summer camps listing is included in today’s . You can see the complete list of camps online at www.charlotteobserver.com/living/article11137871.html.
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For the past 15 years, I’ve had the opportunity to help edit the list of summer camps and write articles citing experts on camp variety and prices. During that time, I’ve sent my own children (now grown) to various summer camps and classes, and am now starting to look for my grandchildren’s opportunities.
What have I learned?
First, today’s kids are incredibly lucky. Offerings have expanded dramatically.
From playing outdoors to a multitude of sports, from visual and performing arts to video game creation, from cooking and sewing to taking care of animals or the environment, there’s a camp that’s sure to appeal to your child’s interest.
Nancy Stockton, director of summer programs at Providence Day School on Sardis Road, agrees that summer offerings have increased in quantity and variety.
“There have been many changes in Summer Programs/Camps over the past 20 years. Our program began as strictly sports and has grown to include a wide variety of camps from drama, science and music to sewing, cooking, technology, academics and much more,” Stockton said.
“The biggest change is the number of organizations offering summer camps and the variety of programs they are offering. We have seen that parents are seeking more opportunities to introduce their children to new experiences and learning.”
Marty Clary, executive director of The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Charlotte, agrees.
“We live in a high-tech world driven by social media, video games and the Internet. The attention span is short, and it takes a lot more to engage and entertain students today,” Clary said.
“With a camp program today, there’s an expectation of even more activities and field trips. Parents are looking for a place where their children can avoid summer learning loss and experience programs that are educational, but at the same time entertaining.”
Second, I’ve learned that, if you are interested in a particular camp or class, sign up now. Though the number of classes across the area continues to grow, so does the number of kids hoping to attend.
“Over the past 10 years, each of our day camp sites have remained at capacity – which is about 500 kids – at the beginning of the summer. The lastthree years, we’ve experienced an increased demand and a longer waiting list at the start of the summer,” Clary said.
Finally, though it’s tough with all the wonderful camps and classes available, resist the temptation to fill every spare moment with planned activities.
While summer is a great time to start a new hobby or even get a head start for the next grade, make sure your child has time to relax and enjoy being a kid.
Even the youngest brains get stressed and need some down time. So in addition to summer camps and classes, be sure to set aside time for your child to play outside.
The National Wildlife Federation website, www.nwf.org, has lots of information about the why’s and how’s of connecting kids with nature.
Take time or make time to walk in the woods, wade in a creek, or watch the clouds float by with your child.
Even if you live in the middle of the city, there’s a wealth of parks and nature centers all over the county that provide outdoor fun and adventure for no or very low cost.
Melinda Johnston is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can see the complete list of camps online at www.charlotteobserver.com/living/article11137871.html.