While classes are of shorter duration and last a few hours, camps are usually longer, lasting 8-10 hours.
Also, the former generally focus on one specialised area e.g. swimming or painting, while summer camps offer a range of activities, from singing and dancing to craft and games. Young children like to try out a range of activities as they are usually still undecided about what they like best. However, children younger than nine may be better off with shorter camp durations of less than four hours. They will also be comfortable around familiar faces, so choosing a class offered by the school that the child goes to or a camp in the neighbourhood that her friends will attend as well, may be the thing to do. Most children aged 13 and above prefer to take up an interest close to their heart and devote attention to it rather than dabble in many things. For this age group, specialised sports classes (tennis, cricket), hobby classes (sketching, music lessons) and classes that need special equipment (robotics, aero modelling) are more suitable. This age group is also more enthusiastic about outdoor programmes (camping, trekking, climbing etc.).
That said, if you need to provide adult supervision of your children outside the home for long stretches in the day (8 hours and above), and cannot manage the logistics of picking up from and dropping to multiple classes, you can still explore full day summer camps – there is no right or wrong summer activity, only what works for your family and what does not.Whichever camp or class you choose, do not forget to ask the following questions:
- Are the outcomes of the camp/class clear? Does your child know what she is going to accomplish?
- Are the people at the class friendly, trained, motivated?
- How well-laid out are the safety and emergency procedures?
- What is the ratio of facilitators to children?
And, before you plunge into the age-wise approaches that follow, here is an educationist’s take on the role of parents during the summer break.
On how parents can make summer an enriching experience for their children
How can the summer holidays be a learning experience for children?
If parents can remember that learning is not just about academics, then they will find it quite easy to provide an enriching experience to their children during the holidays.