It’s getting to be summer! Yay! Are you looking into summer activities for your child? Summer camps are a great way to meet new people and learn new things. If you went to camp, you probably have great memories. But do you have a few sad ones, too? Perhaps you missed your mom and cried every night. Perhaps you wet your bed. So now that you think about it, you are not so sure about sending your child to camp. Is he/she ready?

Here are some things to think about. How will your child handle separation from you? from the siblings? Yes, even though they fight, they still like and need each other. Is your child shy? Throwing your child into a camping situation will not force him/her to talk to others. It may be a good idea to wait a year or two.

Perhaps your child has health issues and needs to take meds. While you will provide instructions for these, is your child able to communicate when he/she is not feeling well? The counselor does not know your child as well as you do, so he/she may need some feedback from your child.

Going to camp doesn’t have to be sleeping overnight somewhere for a week. Nowadays, there are half-day and full-day camps where you child comes home at dinnertime. This will help your child adjust to being away from you and being a little more on his/her own. And the focus of camps varies as much as interests do. Camps can be the traditional camp where the children are outdoors enjoying nature—swimming, hiking, campfires. There are academic camps, sports camps, music camps and so much more.

Your local church might have a vacation bible school where the children go for a half a day for a week. Not religious, the YMCA offers week-long day camps. In Grand Rapids, John Ball zoo offers half-day camps, as does the GR Children’s Museum. For a great list of options, go to Don’t worry, there are free options, too. Think anything water–kiddie pools, sprinklers, fishing. Anything involving balls. Did you play 7-up when you were young? Don’t know what that is? Check it out. What about neighborhood kickball?

No matter your child’s interests or your income (don’t forget to ask for scholarships), camps are a great way to help your child grow up and become more independent. I know some days it doesn’t seem like it will come soon enough. But then, there are those other days when you wish this stage would last forever. Whatever you choose, have a great summer!