(By Angela Ardolino as seen on Daytime TV)

With the school year coming to an end, now is the time for parents to start thinking about how to best occupy the kids for the summer. Camps are a great option because they continue the learning and fun, and can provide a bit of a relief for parents as well.

Are you opting for a camp right in the neighborhood, or perhaps you’re considering a camp that’s away from home? There are several reasons to consider a camp for your children and ways to select the ones that are a great fit.

Benefits of a Summer Camp Experience

Promotes responsibility

  • Your child will have to fend for him/herself and take charge of daily tasks like making the bed, picking out clothes and taking a shower. These may be things your child does on his/her own already, but now s/he will develop a sense of self-reliance.
  • Although you will miss them, they will be forced to interact with others and form bonds on their own.

Expands their horizons

  • Interacting with a diverse group of kids their age from across the globe will expand their cultural understanding and encourage them to communicate with people who are different.

Establishes new friendships

  • They may be interacting with people from various areas of the city, county or country and they will be able to develop a network of friends who will become invaluable when applying to college and finding a job.

Builds self esteem

  • As your children realize they are capable of being on their own they will begin to feel better about who they are, as well as about their capabilities.

Selecting A Camp

Consider your children’s interests

  • Figure out if your child has any special interests. Have you ever caught him/her using your coffee table as a stage? Do they spend time in the kitchen using the garbage as a basketball hoop?
  • Ask your child what s/he is interested in doing this summer. If your kids have more than one hobby or interest consider splitting the summer in half and sending them to two camps.

Research and then research some more

  • Ask other parents that you know well and trust where they send their kids to camp. They will be able to share experiences—good, bad and ugly—and help you narrow down your search.
  • Check out their websites to see what kind of activities they offer, view the facility and figure out if the price is in your range.

Safety is a priority

  • Once you have narrowed down your search, be sure to figure out what kind of safety measures the camp has implemented and how trained the staff is. For example, do the counselors know CPR? Are they trained in First Aid?
  • It is important to be aware of the counselor to child ratio. The smaller your child is, the fewer children per counselor there should be.

Experiment and try something new

  • Summer is a great time to have your kids learn something new. Learn an instrument, a new language, paint, dance, explore, volunteer, the opportunities are endless.