SAN ANTONIO - When I think about what my kids will be doing in the summer, I realize it won't look much like my summers past, riding my bike around the neighborhood, going from one friend's house to another and waiting for the ice cream man to drive down the street.
Kids don't spend as much time outdoors as they used to, in part, because many parents are more protective, but also because many kids gravitate toward couch time, with TV and video games being the central focus.
With this is mind, I've spent quite a bit of time researching summer camps.
I also tend to think of summer as an opportunity to let them try activities they might not otherwise engage in during the school year.
Summer is around the corner and registration is already underway at most summer camps.
There are so many decisions to make and living in the San Antonio area, there are so many choices. There are animal-focused camps, like zoo camp and Sea World camp. There are also sports camps of every nature and, if you live in San Antonio, you could also check out the Spurs' kids basketball camp.
For creative kids, there are art camps and theatre camps.
One that I've heard great things about from other parents is the Magik Theatre camp. I place a lot of value in what other parents tell me about their kids' experiences.
More interesting, though, is when my 7-year-olds come home from school telling me all about a camp their friends love. The "kid stamp of approval" carries some weight with me because after all, camp is about kids.
There are also many educational camps, like the Mad Science camp.
It's worth checking with your school district, as many offer special summer programs, including specifically math and science camps. There may also be foreign language programs to consider. Some camps are less theme/activity-specific and just include a little of everything, similar to the YMCA day camp.
Something to think about when choosing a camp for your kid is whether or not they will enjoy being outdoors in the Texas heat all day, part of the day, or not at all.
Signing them up for activities of interest is always a good idea, but I also consider signing them up for a one-week camp here or there that may take them out of their comfort zone to give them the opportunity to try something new.
There are many websites that have camp reviews where you can get feedback on the experience. YouTube is another great source where you may be able to find videos of camp experiences from years past.
While many camps want you to register online, don't hesitate to call and ask other questions you might have.
Questions to ask when signing your kids up for camp: What is the daily schedule? Do they need a sack lunch? What kind of clothes and, more specifically, shoes are appropriate? Will I have online access to their activities? Can I talk to them while they are at camp? With many overnight camps, this is not encouraged and in many cases, not allowed.
If overnight camps are not cost prohibitive, then you have to ask yourself a whole slew of questions about whether or not it is right for your child.
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