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What Criteria Can Parents Use When Choosing Summer Camps?

And at what age is it OK to send kids (back)packing?

As the end of the school year nears, a number of St. Louis parents are looking into family activities for the summer. Among the possibilities: camp.

You probably attended some of these as a child.

Take a moment to reflect. Breathe in the lake air, the scent of the pines, the roasting marshmallows.

Now draw your focus back to the fact that you've only got a handful of weeks to book the kids' summer planners. Kind of overwhelming, right? Don't worry—we're going to poll the audience and get you some great feedback starting now.

So onto this week's question: If you children are going to summer camp (or if they attended in the past), what criteria did you use for selecting which they would attend? And at what age should children begin attending those camps?

Laura Falk April 13, 2011 at 12:40 PM
Are we talking about sleep-away summer camp? If so, my kiddo's not quite there yet. If we're talking about things in town, we've been doing summer camp since we was about 5, because my husband and I both work. The first couple of years, it was our choice, and we mostly chose well-established camps that were convenient. Now that he's older, he has more of a say in the camps. We try to choose a variety of activities - swimming, art, science, sports, etc., so he'll stay interested, plus be exposed to new things.
James Baer (Editor) April 13, 2011 at 01:31 PM
This is a topic well worth joining. With working parents, most families need a camping experience to occupy their children in June, July and August. The question is, how do you make that choice? What is your criteria in choosing? Feel free to join in the discussion.
Martha Baur April 13, 2011 at 06:08 PM
My 10 year old is going to sleep away camp in NC for 2 weeks. My 7 year old wants to be like her big sister and go to sleep away camp, so she's going to Cub Creek...a darling animal camp in Rolla, MO for a week. Close to home, but she is getting a sense of independence. She's very mature for her age and always looking for excitement! Here in St. Louis my youngest is going to Ackermann's Swim Camp in Kirkwood. We absolutely love that camp. It's two weeks of fun and great swim instruction and my 4 year old will come out of it swimming on her own. I know because my other two did! We love COCA's art camps and Pyewacket Theater camps. A little spendy but very high quality theater experience. They put on a musical at the end that is amazing! Finally for the sporty kid, St. Michael's School in Clayton has a Tri-Arts camp that focuses on training for a triathlon and integrates art with it. We're thinking about that camp for my two older girls. Lots of options in St. Louis!
Martha Baur April 13, 2011 at 06:39 PM
Oops...it's Piwacket Theater Camp. I misspelled it above.
Dr. Cynthia (Cindy) Haines April 13, 2011 at 06:50 PM
My 8 year old daughter does not want to try sleep-away camp, although several of her same-age friends have been going for one to two years now. I would be comfortable with her trying a week or so away if she was really wanting to go (but I am secretly relieved she doesn't want to!) She will be spending time at several local camps including Pegasus and COCA. My four year old son is looking very forward to BurrOak and COCA. Summer tends to be busy at the Haines' household!
Jayne Langsam April 13, 2011 at 08:42 PM
As the Concierge for Jewish Families with Young Children, I am here to provide personlized services to link you to Jewish daycamps in the area. Also my next E-bulletin is all about camps with some great articles and resources, if you are interested in getting it , please e-mail me at jlangsam@jfedstl.org.

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