Whether your child needs full-time summer care or you just want to give them a new experience, we've prepared a guide that will help you search for summer fun.
Be sure to choose a camp and register early.
Even with the tough economy, camps are filling up fast. The American Camp Association says camp enrollment nationwide, particularly in day camps, was higher in 2010 than in 2009, and they are expecting 2011's numbers to be even higher.
From fencing to fishing, Legos to lacrosse, sewing to sailing, and all activities in between, there's probably a camp somewhere in this area that offers what you want.
Though it's good to get a break from the regular school routine, young minds and bodies still need to be engaged so they'll be ready to return to school in August.
According to the National Summer Learning Association, all young people experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer.
Fortunately, experts say, learning comes in all shapes and sizes and doesn't have to be confined to a classroom. Summer is the perfect time for children to step out of the classroom and try something new.
"Summer camps offer kids a time for new experiences. It gives them a chance to be involved in activities they may never have tried before. There's also an important socialization aspect when you are in class with people your own age that have common interests," said Lee Tillery, director of the Town of Matthews Park, Recreation, and Cultural Resources Department.
And who knows?
The new subject or skill they are exposed to during the summer may spark a lasting hobby or even guide them towards a future career.
But before you sign your child up for any summer activity, there are a few things to remember.
Janet Singerman, president of Child Care Resources Inc., a local nonprofit child care resource and referral agency, says a little upfront research is important when looking for a summer camp.
"Do your homework. Know what your children's needs are and what goals you have for them. And then be sure you know what you are purchasing so you can ensure a good fit," Singerman said.
Summer camps aren't regulated the same as year-round childcare, but there are similarities among quality programs.
Child Care Resources Inc. encourages a close look at several areas: the group size (smaller is better); the ratio of staff to campers (generally the lower the better); how the staff interacts with the children and one another; staff training and expertise; age appropriateness of the activities; and how the day is structured.
Think about what it would be like to spend a day there.
Is it an environment where your child would be happy, safe and learning something new?
If at all possible, especially for summer-long camps, they advise a visit to the site before making a final decision.
For more information about choosing a camp and what questions to ask camp directors, visit www.childcarerewourcesinc.org and choose tabs under "what's new?" or have information mailed to you by calling 704-348-2181.