Early on in your search for a summer camp, you will need to determine what length of stay is right for your child. By the age of 9 or 10, many kids are ready for an experience that will challenge them and provide growth opportunities by being away from home for an extended amount of time (anywhere from 2 to 7 weeks). Believe it or not, it’s often harder for parents to part ways for this long, whereas kids are so busy at camp having fun, being active, and making new friends that the time flies by. The personal growth that is achieved at longer overnight camps is unparalleled – by living and playing day in and day out within a close-knit community, your child will grow in their independence and self-confidence through their achievements at camp and the relationships they will build.
We highly recommend international campers attend camp for a minimum of 2 weeks. By staying for at least 2 weeks, a camper can truly get in the mindset of adjusting to camp life. It is very normal for campers, whether American or international, to experience a modest amount of homesickness when they initially arrive at camp. Yet if the camper is staying for at least 2 weeks, they have a much higher chance of working through this homesick and enjoying their time at camp. Additionally, your child will get past any tiredness from jet lag and still have a significant amount of time left to enjoy cmap. One aspect of the 2-week experience to consider is that there are more changing dynamics within the cabin groups, as the campers are coming and going more frequently throughout the summer. Depending on the session and the cabin group, the camper may be with other campers who arrived at camp at the same time as them, and in other situations they may be joining a cabin group where some campers have already been at camp together. This is a question to discuss with the camp director of the camp you are considering.
Looking at a longer option, a 3 or 4 week session length is truly ideal for international kids attending summer camp. By attending a longer camp session, your son or daughter will be with other campers who arrived at the same time as them, and have a longer time to settle in, adjust, and grow at camp. Not only will they get past their homesickness within the first few days of camp, but they will also have a several weeks left to truly settle into the routine of camp. The growth in friendships and confidence your child will experience are achieved through being away from home for that extended time. They will be go through the ups and downs of day to day living with their close friends, and learn how to navigate those challenging moments and strong friendships. Additionally, they will have ample time to experience all the activities that camp has to offer, and to achieve some improvement in skills in those activity areas. Finally, instead of feeling like they are simply spending a few fun weeks away from home, they will grow to feel that camp IS their new home!
Finally, there are some camps that offer a 7-week session. For the international camper who has had experience being away from home in the past and is excited about attending camp, this is definitely a great option to consider. All of the benefits of a 3 or 4 week camp apply to the experience a camper has during a 7 week session, but to an even greater extent! When your child is at camp for 7 weeks, they will return home with even more significant skill development in the activities they participate in throughout the summer. On top of that, the social growth they experience is truly unique – the friendships formed are even more substantive, their conflict resolution skills truly are put to the test and are stronger, and their confidence and sense of accomplishment gained from being at camp for 7 weeks is unparalleled.
With all these options to consider for session length, it is important for parent and kids to talk through what the best option is. Be open to hearing about different lengths of sessions, but also be realistic about what is the best fit for your family. And as always, we are here to answer questions and help you navigate through this decision-making process!