The TSL Kids Crew Blog
Believe it or not, and though we are in the midst of winter, it's that time of year again where summer camps start pre-enrolling for what is, for most children, a magical time of year when they get to go to summer camp and see old friends, counselors, an enjoy tons of recreational fun outdoors in the heat of the season.
But what is summer camp? What isn't it? Those are two fundamental questions parents should have the basic answers to before sending their child off, whether it is to an overnight camp or a day camp.
First off, the Department of Health licenses the majority of summer camps in New York State. These are temporary licenses where providers operate under a specific set of rules outlined in their camp safety plan, which is approved by the DOH in advance. The licensor visits typically once during the program span to assure that the rules are being followed. What rules you may ask? Lots of them, both general and activity-specific.
Day camps can have anywhere from 20 kids to 220 kids. Generally speaking, kids travel, swim, play games, and sometimes run amok. It's the sweetest form of organized chaos that only adults who love to work in a social context with children could understand, appreciate, and embrace.
Will your kid get scraped, bumped, bruised, dirty, and sometimes scuffle with other campers? Most certainly. Will some kids cry when mom and dad leave them? Probably in the beginning. Especially the little ones. Will they be abducted by aliens? Likely not. Will they be traumatized for life because there are so many other kids? Nah. Will they love every single staff person? Hopefully, but maybe not. Summer camp, like life, is an experience. What guarantees does anyone have in life?
Summer camps, even for staff, are hot, boisterous, tiring, intense, interactive, fun, emotionally charging, but downright one of the best times a kid could have. It's because in the best camps children grow immensely by being allowed more freedom of exploration outside of the classroom they have to sit in for the other ten months of the year. Nap times are over and all day play is at hand. And what could be more invigorating than playing all day long, every day, for two months with other kids and adults who love to play?
But play is not always nice. It's not always clean. It's not always neat. It's not always perfect. But that is why kids grow during summer camp. They get to interact with other children who may not be their own age. They get to settle some of their own dilemmas, learn how to play new games or show everyone how much better they are at the games from the previous summer, sing, run, dance, be challenged, and make new friends with other children and counselors.
Is summer camp a place where thirty year veterans of teaching are officiating the daily business? Thank goodness, no. Yikes. Most summer camp staff are between the ages of 16-22. Have you ever met a young adult in this age group who has expert skill sets working with children? Most of them are children themselves. Just older children. But they are learning a new world and are excited by all the same things the campers are and led by someone who is qualified to be a summer camp director.
So, this summer, when you examine your surroundings, if it seems wild and crazy it probably is, but it's summer camp. It's supposed to be! Let your child have safe fun, trust the environment is running the way it is supposed to, and that what is happening is probably nothing more or less than what it is supposed to be happening. After that, if you have any issues or concerns discuss them with your camp director or talk to their licensor with the Department of Health.
The Ideas Written About In This Blog Are Based On The Personal Opinions And Philosophies Of The Contributor Who Has Taught Elementary School For Twelve Years And Has Run A Recreational Childcare Business Since 2009.