Making the Most of Kids’ Summer Vacations

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Members of the South Dakota National Guard Military Youth Camp’s orange “Integrity” team hold tight while trying to get 20 campers’ feet on a small wooden platform at the youth camp Star Search!, July 22, 2014,

When I was growing up, my summer vacations didn’t exactly have much activity.

One summer, when I was 11 years old, I took a sewing class, where I discovered that I am not a great sewer and needed more help than most. Even with significant help, two out of three of my sewing pieces fell apart in some way.

That class, however, is a cherished memory of mine because I tried something new and did something somewhat productive during the summer.

The fear of children and teenagers stagnating or even declining over the summer is one that many parents surely feel. The result is that parents are likely to sign up their children to do things that might make the youngsters gripe and complain. But, arguably, having structured activities can be a chance for these children to have fun and do something meaningful with their summers.

Here’s one example: The District Department of Parks and Recreation has a summer camp that last two weeks. Registration for a child between 3 and 17 years old is open now, but parents could encounter a wait list. Two weeks isn’t a long time in a summer vacation schedule, so why not have a go at it? The caveat, however, is that other things need to preoccupy a youngster’s time in order to have an eventful summer.

Knowing your children’s interests is an effective way for children and parents to work cooperatively as a team. For example, if a child loves to do theater, parents can sign him or her up for, say, Camp Shakespeare, Theatre Lab Camps or Traveling Players Ensemble.

It’s also possible that your child is very interested in science and technology. There are summer programs for those interests as well, such as STEM Camp at Headfirst or AstroCamp Virginia Science & Adventure Summer Camp.

Some summer programs are attached to a school setting. Whether or not these kinds of programs are ideal for your children depends on how much your children love school. If your children want to get away from school for the duration of the summer vacation, then it would be wiser to look for other summer activity options. If, however, they can’t get enough of school and academics and are eager to get to college, then the choice of a summer camp should reflect those inclinations.

For example, the National History Academy, located in Middleburg, Virginia, is a good option for those who are fans of history, especially American history. Beauvoir Summer is another option. For those high schoolers who seek a taste of the college experience and are open to living a good distance from home, Stanford University, Harvard University and Yale University offer summer programs.

The summer is a terrible opportunity to waste. Children and teenagers might wish to take it easy for many weeks, but if they experience structured summer experiences that they like, they will come to appreciate what their parents have done for them — if not sooner, then definitely later.

 

 

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