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Educational Summer Camps

Academic camps boost students to new levels and broaden their horizons.


Summer Camps in New JerseyNo kid wants to spend the summer sitting in a stuffy classroom—not the child who just needs a little help with grammar, and certainly not the math whiz who wants to tackle computer programming. Educational summer camps engage kids in extraordinary ways. Here are the factors you’ll want to consider before sending your child to an academic summer camp.

The curriculum
What are the program’s specific educational goals, and do they match your child’s needs? Does the program cater to students who need help getting up to speed in a subject, or does it focus on advanced topics for students who are already ahead of the curve? Will the kids spend their days in classrooms or will they explore in other ways? How much time is spent on the computer? Does the program keep class sizes small to maximize campers’ interaction with the teachers?

The instructors
What are the instructors’ qualifications? Summer programs frequently hire professionals with direct experience working with the subject matter; do they have classroom experience as well? Do their backgrounds intersect with your child’s areas of interest? (For example, did they attend a college your child may look at? Are they currently working in a career that your child wants to learn more about?)

The extracurriculars
Even the most rigorous of academic programs should offer social and recreational options outside classroom hours. Are there opportunities to play sports and get some exercise? Is there a pool? Do the campers go on field trips or watch movies? What do they do for fun?
The extra credits
Aside from the obvious benefit of continued education during the summer, academic camps frequently offer other advantages and perks. Does the program offer high-school or college credits? Is it held on a campus or facility that you’d like your child to become familiar with? Will the experience add value to your child’s college application or resume? Does the program introduce your child to careers or skills that may take root and flourish?  

The basics
• Age: How old are most of the campers? Will your child be the oldest or
the youngest?
• Supervision: Who is watching the campers when they’re not in class? Are they on their own most of the time, or is their time managed by program assistants or camp counselors?
• Housing: Will overnight campers be sleeping in tents, cabins, or dorms? Are the living quarters close to the classroom?
• Location: If it’s a sleepaway camp, is the drive manageable? If the program is far away, do you have family or friends nearby in the event of an emergency? If it’s a day camp, is the commute feasible with your existing work schedule?
• Budget: Are there extra course fees (books, supplies, etc.), above and beyond the cost of the camp? Does the total fit into your family’s summer budget?

Contributing editor Cathy Ashby, a former camp director of youth programs at Duke University, is a freelance writer.


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