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Is Summer Day Camp in Metro Vancouver the Best Choice for Your Kids?

Why consider summer day programs when you are choosing childcare options this summer?

What is the first thing you do when you feel that last-day-of-school date looming on your family’s calendar? Hop on a local childcare facebook group to ask for support? Call Grandma and Grandpa? Frantically google 'what to do with my kids for eight weeks?' Finding a good fit for your family’s summer can be stressful! 

Most parents feel summer guilt and stress.

It can also be guilt-inducing when parents’ efforts to keep kids engaged all summer don’t seem to work. Have you ever heard the acronym PSG? It stands for ‘Parental Summer Guilt.’ That’s right: so many parents feel negative emotions when it comes to summer that it has actually sparked significant research. A study of 2000 parents found that 75% are ready for their kids to go back to school at the end of the summer, and over half wish summer break was less than two weeks long! So if you’re feeling guilt or stress, you’re not alone. Most parents feel the same way about summer.

Think about Summer Day Camp

Having a plan for the summer is essential for every family, but here’s something you might not have considered: summer day camp.

Summer day camps operate throughout Metro Vancouver, including North Vancouver, West Vancouver, Burnaby and surrounding areas. Many camps are geared towards specific goals, like helping kids improve their basketball, swimming, STEM, biking or baking skills. Musical theater, dance and performing arts camps often lead up to a big performance at the end of a week or two-week-long session. Camps can be half or full day programs, and many have options for before and after care. Your kids get to explore something new or hone a skill they already have through play and practice – instead of sitting around the house on a device or requiring a babysitter during your work day. 

Sounds pretty great, doesn’t it? Let’s explore some of the benefits camp can bring your child.

Want to know the primary cause of PSG (Parental Summer Guilt)? It’s letting kids stay in the house rather than getting out. You might have heard that fresh air is good for you – you might even tell your kids this regularly. But did you know that outdoor play boosts emotional well-being, social skills as well as environmental awareness? Are your kids itching to play outside after a school year spent in the classroom? Camp can scratch that itch without you needing to camp out on the same park bench all summer long. Considering how many important things you need to get done this summer, you’ll probably be glad you chose camp for your kids. At Wonderstruck, we spend about half our time outdoors each day, rain or shine. Several Wonderstruck storylines carry a message about sustainability and the importance of preserving nature for future generations. Summer camps are important for instilling these values and getting kids the outdoor time their growing minds and bodies need!

2. Boosting creativity and development: What will help your kid grow?

Did you know play is a universal human right recognized by the United Nations? The American Academy of Pediatrics recognizes that for a lot of kids, play takes a back seat because of “hurried lifestyle, changes in family structure, and increased attention to academics and enrichment activities at the expense of recess or free child-centered play.” Do you need any more reasons to make play a priority this summer? Why not choose a space – like a summer day camp – where play is a part of everyday life for your child. 

A good summer day camp isn’t just designed to make sure your kids aren’t bored. From STEM to swimming, day camps are designed to hone skills. But did you know that pretend play is crucial for skill development, too? A creative summer camp, like Wonderstruck Camp, can boost creative problem solving, future planning and social skills. “I’m a big fan of pretend play. It’s where children can express and explore the issues they struggle with, because it’s a safe world within their control,” writes Dr.Becky Kennedy, a leading parenting expert. Play is at the core of creativity and innovation, according to world-renowned researcher Brené Brown. Encouraging as much play as possible in kids means raising happier people who can problem-solve well. 

3. Building Community: How can you surround your child with supportive people to help them navigate life?

Camps are great for getting kids to meet others in their age group from outside their school routines. Did you know a lot of kids form lifelong friendships at camp? Building memories together while running through the woods, playing games and doing artistic activities provides the foundation for long-lasting friendships. Shared experiences are extremely important for building connections. At Wonderstruck, living inside of a story together is what helps kids connect deeply with one another. Experiencing the mysteries, surprises, and delight of a new world sparks a feeling of togetherness. 

“Shared experiences can break down barriers and help us find the beauty in those around us,” writes leadership educator Dr.Kristin Bledsoe. Long after kids forget who won the camp-wide game, they’ll recall the feeling of connection from playing together. Camp provides many, many of these connection opportunities!

“Your best friends from camp know you better than anyone else in the world,” says Sarah Heyderman, a specialist in placing kids with the best camps. “From the moment you realize someone was part of your camp experience, whether you overlapped for one summer or 10, you have an immediate kinship.” Socially and later, professionally, camp networks are valuable for personal and career growth. At many camps, Wonderstruck included, older kids are volunteers or LITs (Leaders in Training), which opens spaces for mentorship – formally and informally. This kind of community sounds awesome, doesn’t it? Who wouldn’t want this for their child? 

4. Giving you a much-needed break! How can parents practice self-care this summer?

It might be a school break for your kids, but many moms and dads find themselves facing summer holidays with a bit of dread (or maybe a lot!). If this is you, you’re not alone: a study of 2000 parents found parents want summer break to end at just before the two week mark. That’s about six weeks shorter than summer break actually is. Let’s face it: school holidays take a toll. 

Be honest with yourself: how does your own self-care rank in your family’s summer plan? Organizing vacations takes work and effort. So does keeping kids engaged and occupied at home. If you’re like a lot of parents, you feel pressure to handle that extra work for the good of your family, without a thought to your own stress levels. With kids at summer day camp, you might be able to take a vacation day or a few hours off to grab coffee with a friend, get a manicure, or just have an uninterrupted nap! “Remember, we cannot pour energy into our kids if we have no energy to give,” says Dr.Becky. Maybe it’s time to choose a summer camp and get some of your energy back! Goodness knows the beginning of September will be here before you know it, and you’ll have to reorganize closets and buy school supplies. Why not fill up your cup before you have to tackle all of that?

What’s next?

So, you’ve learned the wonderful benefits of summer camp for your kids – and for you! What’s next? 

Registration is open at many Metro Vancouver camps, including Wonderstruck. Register now for one of our six weeks of programming. Each week features a different storyline, so campers experience something new whether they attend one week - or all six! 

How much does Wonderstruck cost?

Four-day session: $275

Five-day session: $300

LIT (Leaders in Training option for older kids): $175/ week

Before and aftercare is available for $60/week 

Check out the FAQs on our home page for more information on Wonderstruck!


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