Dealing with middle schoolers is tough on so many levels. They’re technically able to stay at home alone during the summer. But what will they be doing?
- Playing video games
- Watching TV
- Eating junk food
- Inviting (unsavory) friends over
A week of that is fine. But not eleven. A whole summer of vegging out = brain rot + excess pounds.
So what to do when your kid has outgrown General Day Camp? Princess dance camp, Superhero adventures, and Wacky Wednesdays just aren’t going to cut it.
It’s time to get serious.
Choosing a day camp for your tween is not about day care. It’s about enrichment and skills development. For a well-rounded summer, there are several key areas to cover:
- Specialized training
- Social skills
- Job training and community service
- Something new
The word "academic" implies sitting at a desk working math problems. However, there are many fun options to help keep your brain sharp over the summer. These days it’s all about STEM. Technology camps aren’t just computer programming; you can learn about 3D printing and video game design. At Engineering camps you can build a robot, a rocket, or a quadcoptor. Science camps offer the exploration of forensics, veterinary medicine and culinary chemistry. Math skills can also be honed in unexpected places like chess or gaming camps.
And let’s not forget about other subjects. Creative writing, foreign language, business, and living history camps are just some examples.
If you excel at an activity you do year-round, summer is the time to dive in for intensive training. If you’re a dancer you take a summer intensive. If you’re an actor you do a two-week performance camp. If you’re an athlete you may do a sports camp plus a conditioning camp.
Social Skills & Personal Development
Some camps help tweens deal with the trials and tribulations of middle school years. They are usually led by licensed counselors or psychologists or dedicated organizations like Michelle in the Middle.
Leadership development is another popular theme. These camps explore leadership qualities, styles, motivation, and may delve into personality assessments to help students understand their strengths and preferences.
Job Training & Community Service
At babysitting camp your tween will learn how to change a diaper and perform CPR. This credential will put them ahead of neighborhood competitors. As we know, babysitting is very lucrative, so think of this camp as an investment.
Lifeguarding camps are great for kids who want to spend the following summer sitting in the sun twirling a whistle.
CIT (Counselor in Training) sessions allow middle school kids to learn the ropes and hopefully get a paying camp counselor position in the future.
Some organizations offer a community service camp, which provides a good overview of volunteer opportunities in your area, and lets kids find out what interests them. This will come in handy if you attend a school that requires community service hours.
Try Something New in the Summer
As kids mature they are less likely to want to try new things. If you’ve never swung a bat, you won’t feel comfortable going to softball camp with girls who are already competent. However, there are some activities for which prior experience is not common:
- Photography – Middle school students are capable of learning about shutter speed and picture composition, and they enjoy blending technology and creativity.
- Pottery – Molding clay can appeal to talented artists looking for a new medium, or those who can’t draw but want to design something with their hands.
- Rowing or lacrosse – Usually not sports one commences at an early age.
- Cooking – A great way to start having your tween help out with dinner prep at home.
How to find great camps
Use Summer Camp Guru's search filters to find a camp for your child and view all the session details:
You can use keyword search box at the bottom of the filter selections to look for specific options not covered in the activity categories.
Disclaimer: I have a rising 6th-grader. She will be attending YMCA babysitting camp, the Charlotte Ballet workshop, Charlotte Eagles soccer camp and an overnight camp with Duke TIP. Academics, swimming and athletic conditioning will be covered in “mommy camp.”