How Long Should Summer Camp Be For Kids?April 28, 2021
Summer camp is the highlight of the season for millions of kids across the country. It’s a chance to switch up the routine, have endless amounts of fun, and make friends for life. As a parent, you can also see how after a summer of camp your child comes back with newfound confidence, practical life skills they’re excited to share, and a passion for trying new things.
And while the benefits of sending your child to camp are exciting, one of the first things you likely want to know is how long your child should attend. After all, too short of a time and your child may not soak in all the best parts of being away, but too long and homesickness can turn the experience into something memorable for all the wrong reasons.
So, how long should summer camp be? While every child is different, here is some information that can help you make the best decision.
For First Time Campers
The perfect amount of time spent at camp depends on how comfortable your child is being away from home and their previous experience. American Summer Camps explained that children ages 9 or 10 are probably ready to spend an extended period at camp, whether it be just for the day or overnight. Children under 9 are best suited for the day camp experience, where they attend from morning to afternoon.
Summer camps typically offer a few different session lengths to appeal to campers of all ages and experiences. For these first-timers, starting off with a one or two week program could be best. This gives campers an introduction to what summer camp is like. They can make connections with friends and have fun, but they may not fully blossom like they would during longer sessions.
These sessions also offer more flexibility for parents. If you have summer plans, like a family vacation, or if your child has other activities to attend during the season, you can plan a one-week session around it.
Even though it’s for a short amount of time, kids still grasp what the summer camp experience is like. Then next summer they can confidently decide whether they want to attend an extended session!
For Intermediate Campers
If your child has attended summer camp before or is traveling far to get there, a three or four week session is ideal. During this time, campers really become involved in camp life and a new routine. They can experience all the benefits of camp, such as becoming more independent and learning life skills that will stick with them long after they head home.
A longer summer camp session also lets kids settle into a routine away from home better. Most children may experience feelings of homesickness during their first few days at camp. If they only stay for a week, these feelings could make up a large portion of their time. However, when they’re at camp for a few weeks, these feelings subside and they can enjoy all camp has to offer. Similarly, it’s normal for campers to feel tired or overwhelming at the beginning of the camp experience. A longer stay also means they have more time to recover and feel like themselves during the rest of the session.
You may see these mid-length camp sessions advertised as a “half-summer option.”
For Seasoned Campers
Stone Mountain Adventures explained that a full summer camp session used to be the norm for children across the U.S. These six to eight week sessions offer the quintessential summer camp experience that many parents and children still choose today. During their stay, camp becomes like a second home for the kids as they forge meaningful friendships with their fellow campers and counselors.
This experience is best for older, experienced campers who are comfortable with being away from home more often because they’ve been before. A benefit of a full summer session is that campers experience more consistency. They will begin their stay with many of the same campers they will also end the summer with. During a two week stay, they may be placed in a group where campers already know each other, but by starting during the first week of camp, they can establish friendships from the start.
Every Child is Different
Like we said from the start, only you and your child know how long they should attend summer camp. Before signing up for a session, make sure to talk to them about their comfort level and expectations of the experience. This can help you gauge the best session length for them!
Camp directors are also great resources to help you understand the best timeline for your child. They may already know the summer schedule and also recommend the best week(s) for their stay.
Black Bear Lake Day Camp Summer Sessions
At Black Bear Lake Day Camp, we know that summer camp should be tailored to meet the physical and developmental needs of each specific age group. We offer exciting summer camp programs for ages 3-15 that are led by our carefully screened camp staff and offered in four to eight week sessions.