As a parent, there are a few very specific reasons why you would want to send your child to summer camp. The first is that finding a way to entertain your child for an entire summer is a huge project. You want them to stay out of trouble and find things to do that will challenge them both physically and mentally. The second is for the socialization. Even though bunking with someone you don’t know can be uncomfortable for a few days, it’s a way to make fast friends and learn how to get along with other people. The last, and possibly most important, is that you need a break sometimes. Without school, your child could be there when you leave for work and when you get home, everyday. That can be a lot of togetherness and everyone can get a little stir-crazy.
When discussing summer camp options, it is important to look for certain factors. The first thing to look for is someone you know with experience going to that camp. Word of mouth is a great way to find out if a particular camp is where you want to send your child. Ask around and gather as much information as you can. Another factor is determining whether the camp is accredited by the American Camp Association. Knowing that the ACA has audited and inspected the camp can make a huge difference. (The ACA has a website that explains the rigorous accreditation process, as well as a listing of which camps are already accredited.) And finally, if at all possible, go see the camp for yourself. Get a tour, talk to the person who manages the camp, find out if there is trained medical personnel onsite just in case there is an emergency. It’s okay to snoop around and pry a bit when you are entrusting someone else with your child’s safety and well-being.
Because there are so many options available, narrowing down exactly what your son likes and dislikes can be a huge advantage when staring at long lists. For example, does your child love team sports like basketball or soccer? Then a sports camp might be better than one that specializes in hiking. Or has your son always wanted to learn an activity, like rafting or sailing? Maybe camping is his favorite thing to do; in which case, try to find a place where campers spend a lot of time backpacking.
And finally here are a few camps that would be great options for boys. (Please note that because of the sheer volume of summer camps in the US, this is not a comprehensive list.)
4-H Camps are a great place for kids to develop a healthy respect for animals and nature, as well as meeting kids from varied backgrounds. These are offered in almost every state and are typically co-ed.
A lot of colleges offer academic summer camps, and if they offer on-campus housing, usually the dormitories are assigned by gender. For example, Duke University offers summer camps for youth, as does Washington State University and the University of Southern California.
YMCA offers both residential and daytime summer camps all over the US. Each one is slightly different due to location and regional interests.
Wilderness Ventures has been an option for years and continues to provide opportunities for teens to explore nature. They also offer camps that specialize in community service, which allows teens to make a difference in the lives of others while learning about new surroundings and meeting new people.