wazi_sunsetThis is a hectic time of the year for traveling moms. We’ve just figured out where to go for spring break and it’s already time to start planning the family vacation for the summer and, even more urgently, figuring out where to send the kids for summer camp.

That’s because many summer camps start filling up by spring. Wait too long and there are fewer choices of weeks still available at the camp your kids want to attend.

I have been sending my sons, Patrick, now 28, and DJ, 14, to summer camp for years.
The main reason was that I wanted to keep them active and engaged during the summer instead of finding them bored around the house. My husband and I also wanted our boys to begin developing independence, build character, learn the essentials of teamwork, and cultivate self reliance. 

I started sending Patrick to summer camp at Camp Waziyatah in Maine (yes, the camp where Disney’s “Bug Juice” was filmed!) when he was 10 years old. I was amazed by how much he loved it; he kept wanting to go back for another three summers.  DJ went to camp for the first time last summer, and it is his experience with camp that is much fresher in my mind.  Months later, I am still fascinated with how much he matured in just one summer at camp.

Summer Camp Success

Like most parents, as soon as my husband and I got over the seperation anxiety with DJ after we dropped him off at camp last summer, we knew he would be fine (and we were fine, too).  DJ came back a few weeks later, and we were so impressed with his demeanor and approach to things.  He was better mannered, and seemed more mature and willing to talk to us about topics concerning his future.

DJ now initiates conversations about a better education.  For a while, we had been trying to get him to think about private schooling, and prior to camp he would not even discuss leaving his friends. DJ frequently talks about what it will take to get in to better universities, and he is only in the 8th grade!  He also became a great leader while at camp, since he was chosen spirit leader for his group, and took that responsibility seriously.  I can see a difference now with him at school, because he is not always following the group, but enjoys setting the trend or making suggestions as to what he and his friends should do instead.

Choosing the Right Summer Camp

I think it is very important to choose the right camp for your family’s needs. 

Parents should look for a summer camp that talks about more than the fun and games. Fun is important, but character building, leadership, frienship, and independence are also a focus at Camp Waziyatah. This is what we were looking for.

Camp Waziyatah is nestled into a breathtaking New England setting, the camp offers young campers more than 40 activities from waterskiing to horseback riding, archery, soccer, golf, swimming, and many more that help and challenge kids as they develop their own interests.  For DJ, it was tennis, and his instructor has had a very positive impact on him.

The counselors at Camp Waziyatah are fantastic, well-trained and there’s no wonder why I saw such a difference in my boys.  During their time at Camp Waziyatah, both Patrick and DJ made great friends with whom they keep in touch throughout the year. 

The Downside of Summer Camp

The only downside of summer camp for me was missing my kids.  At 14, DJ is old enough that he gets so much more out of the summer at camp rather than running errands with me. Plus, my husband and I had the rare opportunity to go on a vacation – it was great for us.

One thing I have learned as a parent who sent her kids to summer camp is that kids are very resilient, and are generally happier than we imagine that they are.  As a mom, I truly believe that summer camp helps kids gain tremendous self confidence.  We have already signed DJ up for this summer. He was all over me to get it done right away.