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The power of camp — any camp — is embedded in its activities which attract kids to participate. Who doesn’t want to build a robot or zip-line across a grotto or jam with other budding musicians? Well, not everyone, frankly. Kids can be very particular. Ensuring that the camp’s activities appeal to your child is an important consideration because it opens his or her mind up to the experience. If kids are resistant to the experience, they likely won’t benefit from it.

The emotional maturity and needs of your child also play a role. A sleepover camp provides a more immersive experience, to be sure, but a child may not be emotionally ready for it. By contrast, he or she may benefit from some separation from your family and the development of greater independence. It’s not a bad thing for kids to miss their parents; sometimes absence helps kids better appreciate their family and home life.

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Another important factor is the people with whom your child interacts at camp. Like everyone, kids are drawn to experiences that involve people similar to themselves. Perhaps they will flourish at an all-girls or all-boys camp where they aren’t distracted by the opposite sex. Or perhaps they will thrive with other intellectually or athletically gifted children who can push them to achieve a higher level of skill. Exposing them to diversity is also an important consideration. Whatever your decision, recognize that developing social connections at camp can build your child’s social network, not only at camp, but potentially well beyond.

Choosing the right camp for your kids and assessing their experience means balancing their desires with your own expectations for their growth. A camp that will not only appeal to, but also push your child is ideal. In making that choice, you can be confident your child’s summer will be a meaningful one. Clearly, the classroom isn’t the only environment that encourages personal transformation.

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