Kids' summer camps come in many different varieties. Here's a snapshot of summer camp choices, including residential, day, specialty, family and special needs camps.
Overnight camps: kids' home-away-from-home
"You just can’t get this experience anywhere else," says Beth Allison, executive director of Cairn, near Baysville, Ontario. “It’s the 24/7 that really makes the difference in the life skills children are able to gain and the opportunities to put them into practice.”
Through engaging in fun kids camp activities, there are many opportunities for children to learn lifelong lessons, Allison explains. "When kids go off to sleepover camp, they get to leave a lot of baggage behind. Camp levels the playing field. It’s a place where kids are accepted for who they are and learn about inclusion and to be tolerant of others."
See camps.ca's complete list of overnight summer camps.
Eric Shendelman, director of Crestwood Valley Day Camp in midtown Toronto, says his camp takes kids into a different world, right in the centre of the city. “Children can experience a multitude of activities here that allow them to create, participate and grow,” Shendelman says. “Children can grow up with us and as they get older, they can start to specialize, whether their interests are baseball and basketball or music and drama.”
Many kids camps have before- and after-care and some provide bus service. They can be appropriate for children as young as two, right through their teens.
Look at our numerous kids day camp options.
Specialty kids camps can fulfill a child’s passion—whether they are crazy for hockey or love being on the stage. Sports, computer, arts and theatre camps offer training and target their experiences to those who are focused on a particular specialty.
Catherine Marjoribanks says she sent her 13-year-old daughter, Mary, to No Strings Theatre Productions in Toronto because she was looking for musical theatre day camp in the city that would feature a full-scale production. "She went for a four-week block and it was absolutely her favourite camp ever," Majoribanks says. "My daughter loves theatre and she meets up with her tribe when she goes to a specialty camp."
Learn more about specialized kids' camps.
Toronto Zoo offers a family camp called the Serengeti Bush Camp, which allows parents and children to stay overnight in the zoo’s African savannah enclosure for an up-close and behind-the-scenes look.
Laura Suchan says she’s not usually one for sleeping in a tent, but she jumped at the idea of attending the camp, because it was an adventure she could share with her sons, Dillon and Tyler. "I was looking for an experience I could have with my boys," she says. "They both love animals and they loved the idea of being at the zoo after hours."
See our list of family summer camps.
Kevin Troake, director of Camp Kennebec, explains some of the steps that the camp — which caters to kids with a variety of special needs, including autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder — undertakes to ensure their campers thrive. "We do a home visit with every camper before they arrive. We're in contact with their school. Every family completes a questionnaire about their child’s characteristics, likes and dislikes, and then we design an individualized program," Troake says.
"When you visit our camp, you’ll see kids swimming, canoeing, doing the climbing wall and archery—all the typical activities you see at summer camp. The difference here is the structure and all the preparation and supports behind the scenes," Troake says.
Special needs camps tend to have higher staff-to-camper ratios and have a range of professional and medical staff who are well-equipped to address the unique needs of their participants.
Kids at summer camps for special needs also benefit from the fresh air and the interaction with other special needs kids, of course.
Camp Kennebec is one of many of our camps for kids with special needs.
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