It is December which, for me, means snowboarding, winter hiking, and getting the long underwear out of storage. For seemingly everyone else, though, it is time for last minute crazy shopping for friends and family for the holidays. In celebration of this annual season of gift giving I am giving you my Top 5 reasons to choose summer camp as the perfect gift for your ________ (insert son, daughter, grandchild, niece/nephew, friend, stranger, etc.).
- Kids and teens love camp! - Over 11 million people go to summer camp each year and that number is always growing. All of those kids and families understand something that non-campers just do not: camp is awesome! Camp is a day, week, month, or entire summer where a kid can be a kid, get some enrichment, make new and lasting friendships, and gain serious amounts of self confidence and independence. Just like every child is different, every camp is unique and there is one that will fit every child out there.
- Twice the bang for your buck (or more). - Giving a summer camp enrollment to a child means that they not only get the gift during the holidays but again when it is time to ship off to camp. You could hide the camp brochure somewhere interesting, give them the message with a camp shirt, or just creatively surprise them and watch as the reality sets in that he/she will get the chance to go to their dream camp. The newly enrolled camper will begin mentally packing before school starts back up in January and continue to think about it until summer finally comes. As a bonus, parents that gift camp are also buying themselves a kid-cation over the summer!
- Help a small, U.S. business. - So much of the gifts given over the holidays are made by massive companies overseas, sold by even bigger retailers, and rendered obsolete by design as the next holiday season comes around. Summer camps, for the most part, are small businesses. They are run by families who overwhelmingly utilize local contractors and labor for their operations and often forego profit in favor of offering scholarships to needy campers or enhancing the camp with new buildings, equipment, or activities. Moreover, the gift of camp is not going to go out of fashion with the next new fad. Camps have been around for over 110 years and have figured out how to serve up a fantastic product year after year.
- Reserve your child's space before they are all gone. - Many camps fill to capacity by February or March so procrastinating parents are often left explaining to their kids why they cannot go to their favorite camp this summer. If it is difficult for you to nail down a certain camp date for next summer this early you should ask the camp if you can switch weeks if something pops up and then enroll for whichever dates you think would work out. Most camps will be flexible and accommodating and some even offer full refunds up to a specific date so the early camp enrollment is pretty risk-free to the family.
- Avoid hectic shopping and rampant consumerism. - Enrolling in camp is simple. Many camps offer online enrollment and those that do not (mine included) have simple forms to fill out and mail in. Avoid the mall...check! Camps typically take just a deposit with enrollment and then the rest of the tuition is due in the spring. This lets you give a big gift without spending big money all at once. Camp is not a gift that is in your face all year with TV and web commercials and ever changing promotions and discounts. They may not have the same glitzy appeal as a material gift but summer camps definitely give the recipient more in terms of fun, learning, and endless good times.