What defines a day camp? The hours that the campers keep, of course. Activities take place during daylight hours—leaving campers free to return home in the evening. Besides their hours of operation, day camps are as varied as residential camps. Some offer mixed programs with a range of activities, while others allow campers to focus on a new activity or sport.
According to Jack Driben, managing director of the Camp Experts—an international service that helps match kids with an appropriate summer camp—day camps are especially good at initiating younger children to the camp experience. Kids can start to learn skills of self-sufficiency and independence that will help them as they grow older.
"You’re in a place where you’re going to learn. And that learning is very, very important," Driben says. "They're going to grow."
Day camp is a good place to explore a new interest, too, without the same level of commitment as a residential camp. Kids as young as six can explore an interest in fencing, for instance, at Katya Belkina’s day camps offered through My Fencing Club in Toronto, part of the Ontario Fencing Association's camp selection. "During the year, kids are so preoccupied with other things, and summertime is just perfect for children to either learn a new sport or just enjoy fencing if they’re already involved in fencing," Belkina says.
Sunnybrook Stables Riding Camp in Toronto also offers kids the chance to learn and improve their equestrian skills. Campers ride twice daily and learn stable management and horse care. "I think having the horse in their care gives them a really good sense of responsibility,” says camp director Gillian Simpson. "But at the same time it’s fun, and they can really feel like they develop themselves."