By Jill Frier

The summer months are coming soon and parents all over the Valley are scrambling to find ideas for ways to keep their kids busy or provide weekly childcare while they are out of school. One solution many parents take advantage of is summer camp. Here are some tips for finding the right summer camp for your kids this year.

Why Summer Camp is Important
Camp is a place where kids are allowed to safely roam and play in a way the often aren’t in their own neighborhoods these days. Whether they are at day camp all summer, specialty camp for a week or two, or overnight camp, kids get to let loose and have fun with other kids outside of a school or home environment. Not only are summer camps a great way for your kids to have fun, get exercise and stay active during the months they are out of school, they also teach important life lessons such as how to make new friends and gain independence.

Here are a few of the types of camps to consider for your child this summer:
• Academic
• Sports
• Overnight
• Outdoors
• Science
• Arts and music
• Animals and zoos
• Childcare for working parents
• Just for Fun and Social Interaction

How to Pick the Right Camp for Your Kid
There are tons of options, both in-state and out, for parents and kids to choose from when deciding which type of camp to pick. You can choose anything from traditional overnight camp with lakeside cabins in the woods, to science camp where kids go daily to conduct experiments and learn about different scientific and STEM-related topics, to soccer, gymnastics, karate or basketball. Some things to consider when deciding on the right camp include the following:

Know Your Goal: Do you need full-day care for your child every day, or do you just want to get them out of the house for a while to have fun with other kids? Do you want them to get plenty of exercise? Learn a new skill? Grow academically? Improve their musical or artistic abilities? Pick a camp that meets the goals you have for your child.

Know Your Child’s Interests: Discuss the different types of camps available with your child and see what things interest them. Understand the age range suggested by the camp and any skill sets they may be required to have. You can broaden their horizons by letting them try new things, but be aware of their limitations and the things they don’t like. For example, if your kid hates team sports, soccer camp may not be a great idea.

Know Your Budget: Summer camp can cost a lot of money, especially if you send your kid to a specialized place. Be sure that you consider all of the expenses involved, including equipment, meals and extras. There are also a variety of options that you can make work to fit your budget. Look for non-profit organizations, public parks and recreation venues, community centers and libraries for lower cost options.

Be Aware of Time Constraints and Locations: Summer camp can be a big help to working parents, but note the drop off and pick up times to make sure they work with your schedule. Know the location of the camp, to make sure you can get to and from day camp and that the times and routes work for your family. Also be sure to plan around any known vacation or time off you have. Timing is a pretty key element when picking a camp.

Do Your Homework: The time to start doing homework for the right camp for your kid is now, before camp schedules get booked up and vacation time is planned. Do your research, read the fine print, talk to your child and make sure that the camp or camps you pick work best for everyone in your family.

Be sure to check out Ladybug’s Blog ( for many more ideas for having fun outside and out of the house this summer in Arizona!