These days, you can find Christian summer camps for all ages, from Kindergarten to young adults, which is a confusingly wide range. Proper childhood development has become the subject of endless parenting books, all of which offer a different opinion on how and when children should experience the world. Sending them off to an overnight camp way too early could be traumatizing, but waiting too late could make them miss an opportunity to really grow, mature, and enjoy themselves. Parents might know their sons and daughters well, but they might not be able to discern the proper time and age to send them to camp. Unfortunately, there isn’t a set rule that dictates that eight, six, or eleven is the best age. It all depends on your child. That directionless statement might discourage some parents, but they can at least follow some guidelines to determine the proper time for Christian summer camps.
- While there isn’t a specific age that’s best for sending your kids off to camp, most professionals warn against sending kids younger than seven. A handful of six-year-olds might be prepared, but in general, boys and girls who have completed first grade tend to be more skilled at adapting to a camp environment. If they do well at friends’ sleepovers, they’ll probably do well at overnight Christian summer camps. Just be sure to research the age range of a camp before you send your son there. If he’s eight but surrounded by high school aged campers, it can be a terrifying experience. First time campers, in particular, should be surrounded by peers their own age.
- Observe your child’s interest in Christian summer camps. If you went as a kid and loved it, casually tell some stories about your experiences, or watch a movie as a family about summer camp. It tends to be an amazing experience that almost any personality type can enjoy, but kids of any age can have a miserable time if they’re forced to go against their will. The idea should excite your kids, and judging their reactions to stories or movies about camp will reveal if it’s a good idea or not. You might think the socialization and adventure would be optimal for your daughter, but if she expresses no interest—or worse, a disinterest—this year is probably not the best summer to sign her up.
- Parents fear college because it’s the point when, finally, their sons and daughters are independent adults, making their own mistakes and decisions. To lose that control frightens a lot of people, so they spend every year of parenting instilling values and offering guidance. Christian summer camps aren’t as dramatic as that, but they do serve as a time of little parental control. It’s the first time most children have to experience God without their parents beside them in church, and it’s the first time they encounter people and friends their parents haven’t met. It takes a mature kid to be ready for that sudden freedom. So before you send your children off to camp, make sure they’re prepared to make some good decisions.