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What’s the Best Age to Send My Child to Summer Camp?

Parents have a lot of options to choose from when it comes to summer camp. However, it can be difficult to determine the correct age to send your child to camp.

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It’s really more about their personality and maturity. I recommend trying out day camps for children younger than 9, and overnight camps for kids aged 9 and older. While there is little data to suggest that camps provide long-lasting developmental advantages for kids, there are many benefits of having a great summer camp experience. These include:

1. New experiences to enrich their learning.

Camps try to offer a rich experience with plenty of activities. Novel activities often provide new learning opportunities. 

2. Developing new interests.

As campers try new things, they may pick up a hobby or interest they will want to continue exploring long after they have returned home. 

3. Creating new and long-lasting friendships.

Many kids form friendships they’re eager to revisit year after year at camp. Some campers stay in touch after the camp has finished. Regardless, camp allows kids to practice social skills outside of their normal routine.  

Summer camp isn’t always a good experience for all children. Understanding your child’s personality and maturity will help set them up for the best time possible. For most kids, it’s best to start off at a short-day camp and gradually move them toward an overnight camp. Being suddenly sent to an overnight camp can be distressing for a lot of young children.

For more information about how to approach new situations like camp, explore our parenting tips for how to support your kids and handle difficult parenting decisions.

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