by Lisa Thompson

Now is the time to begin thinking about summer activities for your child. There are many options, including summer camp! Camp isn’t just about having fun. Besides giving kids something productive to do over the summer months, camp can:


  • improve a student’s achievement in school
  • increase a student’s awareness of careers and education options
  • help a student explore areas of interest
  • allow a student to meet other students with similar interests


Summer programs fall into two broad categories:


  • Day camps are camps where students attend during the day and return home at night.
  • Overnight camps are those where the student sleeps over, often in cabins or college dorm rooms. These camps generally last  a week or more.


The type of activities offered are as diverse as the students who attend. Some camps focus on college or career preparation. Others offer general enrichment or recreational activities. Still others focus on academic subjects. Some are geared toward specific audiences, such as special needs or religion affiliation.


Choose a Summer Camp That’s Right for Your Child

When choosing a summer camp, there are many things to consider beyond what activities your child may enjoy most. Which one you choose will depend on your comfort level and the needs, interest, and maturity of your child.


  • Learning environment: Do students choose all the activities in which they want to participate? Or does the camp follow a more structured schedule of activities?
  • Duration: How long will the camp last? Most camps run at least one week, but some run for several weeks.
  • Location: Where is the camp located? Summer camps happen all over the country in many different environments.
  • Transportation: Is transportation provided to and from the camp? Or is that the parent's responsibility?
  • Price: How much does the camp cost? The cost can vary dramatically depending on the type of camp or the programming options. Most cost at least several hundred dollars. Overnight camps, as a rule, are more expensive than day camps since the price includes lodging and meals. Find out in detail what is and is not included in the cost of an overnight camp before committing to it. Low-income Minnesota students may be eligible for up to $1,000 to attend a summer academic enrichment program.


Find a Camp

There are many online camp searches. To find Minnesota camps, the Summer Enrichment Guide and Star Tribune’s Summer Camp Guide are great places to start. Both are updated every spring.


Be sure to research the camp thoroughly, and start early. Find websites or online forums that review the quality of camps. If possible, talk with other parents who have already sent their child to the camp.