Summer is just around the corner and while our kids are anxiously awaiting that final school bell, it can be stressful (and expensive) trying to figure out the best ways to keep them active and engaged all summer long.


Since my children were little, we have enjoyed everything about summer. We take full advantage of the sunshine by staying outdoors as much as possible. But some of the most fun comes from them participating in various camps throughout the summer.


Summer camps offer avenues for learning new skills, meeting new friends, and prevents children from having to say “I am bored” during the school-free months. For parents, choosing the best camp means starting early and asking the right questions.


Here are few tips from my quest for finding the best summer camp:


  • Decide if the camp experience will consist of learning new skills, developing more self-confidence, increasing athletic ability or provide adventurous age-appropriate activities. There are a variety of different genres of camps you can choose from that can meet your needs. Be sure to include your child when finalizing the selection. Some children, just as adults, like to be made aware or involved in the decisions that affect them.
  • Ask other parents for recommendations of summer camps that match your children’s interest. Talk with other parents and read reviews about the actual physical environment and daily operations of the camp (noise level, size of group activities, type of food served, hours available, diversity of staff, etc.). The feedback you get from parents can impact the quality of your child’s camp experience.
  • Determine your budget and stick to it. Summer camps can be expensive. Therefore decide early on how much you will set aside for this expense. Be creative if needed to ensure your child gets the best summer camp experience. For example, I often explore the option of splitting the summer between an expensive camp and one not as pricey. By dividing our summers into two or more activities my children are exposed to more than one summer camp, and I have the chance to balance the cost associated with enrolling two children in summer camp programs.
  • Plan Early. Many camps require health appraisal forms or deposits to secure a spot. One year, we missed out on an excellent opportunity because I did not realize that the camp required a health appraisal. By the time I was able to secure a doctor’s appointment for my kids, the summer camp was no longer accepting applications. So, plan early to ensure that you have taken the necessary steps needed to reserve your child’s spot in a camp.


There is never a better time to meet new friends, learn awesome skills, and create beautiful memories than through the active participation in a summer camp. I hope you and your children find a camp experience that brings to life the meaning of summer break and summertime fun.


Photo credit: YMCA

About Shantalea Johns

Shantalea Johns is a Licensed Social Worker and contributing writer for Little Guide Detroit. She is also a certified Mental Health First Aid instructor. Shantalea lives in Detroit with her husband Alan and two children, Aaron and Allison. Her family loves trying new restaurants, biking at metro parks, and attending performing arts events around Detroit.