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June 25 2014


Programs Where Kids Can Actually Learn During Summer

Many parents are not aware of enrichment programs as a summer option for their child. If your child wants to go away, but is not interested in a traditional camp experience, this may be the way to go. If your child has outgrown his/her overnight camp experience and is looking for something new, this might be the option for you. If your child has never been away from home before and there is a looming fear of independence, this might be the perfect step into the college waters.

ACADEMIC PROGRAMS If you had to conjure an image of a summer academic program — where kids actually choose to learn in the summer – you might think of a group of sedentary, pale, non-athletic kids who would rather be in the library than in a lake. Well, the idea I had before I visited several academic programs this summer was not too dissimilar. But, I was wrong! I saw vibrant places of experiential learning where young minds were nourished and young bodies challenged with unusual offerings.

Enrichment programs. For many years, there have been pre-college programs for high school kids, but more recently there has been a rise in enrichment programs for younger kids. Starting in 4th grade, a child could spend 1 – 6 weeks in an enrichment program where they would live at a boarding school or college campus in a dorm room, eat in a community dining hall, take classes of special interest, participate in recreational activities and take part in organized field trips. While there are one-week tech programs right here in St. Louis, you have to travel out of state to find these broad-based academic experiences for grade-school or middle-school age children.

Kids tend to be over-structured during the year, so these types of program relish in the ordinary, like capture the flag or a game of risk. So often, today, kids do not have the neighborhood peer group to strike up a game of capture the flag or, in some urban areas, they do not have the green space. In this type of residential living, there is always a peer group for a board game or group pick-up game.
Pre-College Programs. For high-school age kids, there tends to be a broad-range of participants, from foreign students who want a taste of American culture to American students who want a taste of college. These programs give high school students the flavor of what it’s like to live on a college campus. In addition to academic study, each program offers SAT Prep (including essay writing), college visits, internship programs, leadership programs, community service options, a range of sports programs, visits to local attractions, as well as weekend excursions to nearby cities. Most of these programs are offered in large, urban centers with access to multiple universities. The directors of these programs are always looking to provide unusual course offerings. 

Supervision and Academics. Though this age-group is more mature, they probably need more supervision, not less. Many universities offer coursework for high school aged kids, but only a few programs offer the type of residential supervision that would make the parent of a high schooler feel comfortable to send their child to live on a college campus. The other big piece is academics. Are you looking for a program where your child might take a calculus course for credit from a university professor, or are you looking for a break from the school-year rigor? Some programs have college students or graduate students passionate about their field teach the courses, while others have university professors teach. http://www.fitnessbythesea.com/santa-monica-summer-camp/

June 02 2014



It’s summer time! Are your kids excited for a summer camp? Have you signed them up for summer camp? Then what are you waiting for? Your kids are missing a once a year chance of learning and fun! They will learn a lot from summer camp like crafting, cooking and learning just to be yourself. They will also learn how to be an independent person, because in summer camp your parents will not be there for you.

Summer camp encourages interpersonal growth in a way that others did not experience. When you find a good summer camp that is a perfect fit for your child, you will be rest assured that your child will come home a different person, proud of themselves having a better and good attitude. In summer camp they will have so much fun!

Here are ways that Summer Camp encourages self-realization:

• Stepping out of their comfort zone - At Summer camp, children learn how to make decisions without relying on parents or their go-to comforts. This can be incredibly empowering – or super scary. If your child is ready to experience independence, then taking them out of their routines and comfort zones creates the perfect environment for reflection and growth.
• Structured independence - When you find a camp that fits your child perfectly, s/he will have structure – a very important key to growing and maturing. The boundaries of camp and the trained staff are all tools that will help build self-confidence, assertiveness, and courage in your child.
• Social Situations – summer camps place kids in group situations that teach them a plethora of social skills including team work, trust, judgment and conflict management. There are team games, social living quarters, and various interactions that lend to this. Some kids will learn how to work with others, some will discover parts of their personalities that don’t lend well to social situations, and others will discover how much they enjoy working in groups. Above all, this experience is unmatched in how it brings self-awareness.
• Team work in activities - Just like above, the activities they will partake in will teach the child how to best work as a team. Some of my favorite memories include the cabin games – the friendly competition that helped us all work together. What is wonderful about this is the staff is trained to help the children learn about themselves and how to work through whatever is holding them back from enjoying camp and the other kids.
• Encouraged to be who they are by the trained staff – leaders are given the chance to lead! The staff of a camp really does make a huge difference in how much your child enjoys the experience. A quality trained staff will notice the qualities of each individual child and do what they can to encourage them to be who they are. Leaders will get a chance to lead, encourages cheering them on, creators to create and thinkers to analyze.
• Feeds their hunger for adventure, sparks interest - At camp, kids learn what they love and what they really don’t care for (ok, what they really despise!). I learned how much I didn’t enjoy arts and crafts at summer camp. To this day I don’t really do them, even with my kids (oh my poor kids). But I learned how much I loved leading team activities. And if you find a camp that is geared to a specific interest you can help them have an even fiercer hunger to learn more about it!
• Emotional muscles grow and stretch - Children are all so different- from shy to extremely extroverted. Camp lets them grow these muscles! The trained staff will be there to talk through situations – like home sickness at night or hurt feelings from friends during the day. As the child works through these rough patches, they will be so much wiser, stronger, and more confident the next time they encounter it.

So what’re you waiting for? Sign them up now before it’s too late! http://fitnessbythesea.com

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