January 2012 Archives

Day Camp or Overnight Camp

by Amanda Formaro
When choosing a summer camp, especially for the first time camper, the first choice to be made is whether to attend a day camp or go for the overnight camp. There are a few things to consider when parents are faced with this decision. Here are some points to ponder before deciding.

The Main Differences
As the names suggest, overnight camp involves staying away from home for the duration of the camp session. This can range from 1-2 weeks to 4-6 weeks depending on the camp and programs you choose. Day camp, on the other hand, offers plenty of day time activities and then your child returns home each night. 

Your Child's Readiness
First and foremost you should consider whether or not your child is ready for overnight camp. Is she ready to spend 3-4 weeks away from you, especially at night? If she's a first timer, day camp is a viable option to test the waters and see how well she fares. If you think she's ready for overnight camp, for her first time, consider a short term camp of 1-2 weeks to get her feet wet.

While overnight camp can be pretty much anywhere you and your child are comfortable with, day camp is a different story. Because you must drop off and pick up your child each day, you must consider the location of the day camp you choose. Driving over an hour one way to drop off your child, return home, pick up your child and return home can quickly rattle your nerves! Let's not forget the cost of gas these days and the wear and tear you will place on your vehicle. Most families will try to find a day camp within 30 minutes or less of their home or workplace.

Family Activities
Something you may wish to consider is your family's schedule. Do you spend weekends away as a family? Perhaps you have relatives such as grandparents that like to visit on weekends. If you child is away at overnight camp, this can most certainly influence your decisions. Day camp is a less disruptive option to a busy family schedule. 

The Cost
As you might have guessed, overnight camp is more expensive than day camp. There are dinners to serve, laundry to do, and employees to pay to keep your child safe. Costs of running an overnight camp are much higher than a day camp due to higher utility costs, more food is needed and a larger staff to pay. A day camp's overhead is much lower as there's no additional employees or security needed at night after your child has gone home.

What About Both?
While it might seem like a crazy option, if your budget allows for it you could certainly do both! Enroll your child in a short day camp at the beginning of the summer, perhaps a week long program. Then take a later session overnight camp spot before summer ends. You'll get the best of both worlds and this will really help determine what camp environment your child thrives in.

Always do your research. Check with local camps, visit their facilities and request a tour. Speak with camp directors and do some online searching. Ask the camp director their thoughts on day camp vs. overnight camp. You might be surprised at how willing they are to share!