Every year, parents are faced with the same question: how to give their kids a fun summer while providing them with a unique learning experience that will last. More and more families are turning to academic summer camps as a way of adding value to the summer camp experience.
But not all academic summer camps are created equal. Here are some points to consider when evaluating summer programs for your son or daughter.
Does the area of enrichment have any practical application to your child’s academic future?
Several camps position themselves as “academic” when in reality they are more like vacations for the students who attend. Do the kids like these camps? You bet. But before signing up, make sure the students aren’t just left to their own devices to “learn”! Find out about the learning experiences they’ll have that will give some depth to their summer—in addition to fun. Close inspection may reveal that there’s far more downtime and unstructured free time than there is quality enrichment.
What kind of training and expertise does the staff possess?
If a summer program bills itself as providing new skills to participants, then make a point to learn about the background of the staff who will teach these skills. Are the program leaders teachers themselves or experts in a particular field? Also, inquire about the training they receive. Many summer programs scramble at the last minute to hire summer staff and, as a result, the experience and training of some staff members may be lacking.
Is there a balance between learning and fun?
The last thing a student needs in summer is more school. A good academic summer camp gives students the feeling that they’re at camp, not back at school. While some programs try to combine learning and fun by giving the campers adequate free time, the best camps incorporate fun right into the learning. When a student enjoys the learning process, the brain does a better job of assimilating and retaining the new information.
In what ways will the program enrich your child’s life?
When most people hear “academic summer camp,” they think of academic enrichment. Clearly, students benefit from acquiring new skills in such areas as creative writing, reading comprehension, problem solving, and critical thinking. But if a camp offers them growth in life skills areas that build their confidence, motivation, and self-esteem, as well as their communication and leadership skills, then you’ve found an academic summer camp that can help a student grow in school and in life.
How long is the academic summer camp?
There is no set length that is best. Students do benefit from some downtime in the summer, so a program that runs three or more weeks may be too long. On the other hand, camps that last just a few days will have limited value. Similarly, day camps don’t have the same impact as residential enrichment camps, where students get to stay on site for the duration of the program. Some of the best learning can come in the evening sessions of summer programs.
Where is the academic summer camp held?
Look for enrichment camps held on college campuses. Middle school and high school students enjoy the experience of living in college dorms for a week or more. It can even prove to be inspirational as they begin to think about college.
The most important question—have you enrolled yet?
Sending your son or daughter to the right academic summer camp can pay long-term dividends for the entire family. Newly acquired academic skills, increased motivation, or added confidence can translate into better grades, as well as new academic and personal interests. In turn, this growth can lead to admission into better colleges, college scholarships, and rewarding careers.
It’s no coincidence that SuperCamp delivers in all six areas. We’ve designed every aspect of our program to draw your student into an experience of learning like no other. Our students have a blast, but they also learn valuable academic and social skills that they use for the rest of their lives.
Image Courtesy of Peter Blanchard