The Summer Camp Mistake I Made and How to Avoid It

My boys will turn 6 and 8 this summer so their camp options are endless. However, two years ago, I made a terrible mistake. I let the boys pick out their preferred camps based on the camp activity. Sounds like I did the right thing BUT, despite how fun jumping on a trampoline, molding clay into pots or making robots sounds…it is miserable if you don’t have at least one friend in camp. I underestimated how important it was for kids to have the comfort of their buddies around, even at this young age. While they reluctantly attended the camps they selected, and even made some new friends, they weren’t as excited as I had hoped. Last summer, I tried a completely different approach and saw a huge improvement.. I coordinated all the weeks of camp with the moms of my kids’ friends so they had at least one friend in each camp.

Here is my strategy for organizing a summer camp schedule:

I start with a spreadsheet (as we organized geeks like to do). On the top, I list each week of the summer and input our planned vacation and other critical dates.

Next, I do my research by looking online to find all the camp options available for each age group. I then match the ages with the activities and topics that I think will be of most interest to my kids. On the spreadsheet, I list the camps that are offered during the weeks we have available. For example, his school camp is offered every week of the summer whereas,“Frog and Toad Clay Camp” and “Lego Camp”, are only offered one week each. Once I had all the camps laid out by week, I had my menu of options for the summer.

To take a sneak peek of how I organized all my research and camp options check out my sample spreadsheet.

Next, I discuss the camp options with my campers. I tell my sons about each of the various camps and they circle those that are of most interest to them.

Now it’s time to coordinate with the moms of his best buddies. We get together at my house for a camp party with our laptops, our spreadsheets and a glass of wine to plan out the summer for the kids.

Finally, I mark the chart with the chosen camps of the other kids as well so I can coordinate things like carpool.

Now that our camp schedule is planned, I need to register for the right sessions. I outline and downloaded all the required forms for each camp. I complete all the registration forms at once so I ensure it gets done. If your schedule doesn’t permit a stretch of time for this, do as many as you can and mark them as complete once you finish each one. I then make a copy of all the required materials for each camp in a folder. I use this folder throughout the summer for reference. The same information can be saved digitally or in an easy access paper file. I take the originals and mail them with a check or complete the registration online with credit card payment.

Using this summer camp strategy sets my sons up for a really fun (and exceptionally busy) summer and I don’t have the stress of signing up for camps haphazardly or late and having to find last minute options.

If you live in the Tampa Bay area, feel free to contact us at 727.304.4664 and we can send you our forms and camp research resources.

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