Questions. They’re unavoidable.
With any decision, big or small, questions are plentiful—with some questions only leading to more questions! What should we have for dinner tonight? Who is even going to be home for dinner? How about after dinner? Should I watch a movie? Read a book? Just go to bed early?
So, it’s only natural that when choosing a summer camp, questions run rampant.
It makes total sense: camps cost money; camps involve trusting your little ones in the capable hands of others; camps, if chosen wisely, could have a long-term positive impact on your child’s future.
Really, the answers to your camp questions stand between what could be a fun, enriching, amazing summer experience for your child, and one that is just, there—amounting to nothing more than what could be considered a week of daycare.
So, what questions should you be asking?
Of course, there are a few major, obvious things you’ll want to look into—camp accreditation, licensing, etc. It’s all very important. At the same time, though, you should be digging a little deeper.
So what better way to research camps than with the help of a camp expert?
iD Tech, the #1 summer STEM program for kids and teens ages 7-18, has been running camps in coding, game development, design, and robotics for 20 years. With 350,000 students having passed through their programs since 1999, iD Tech has received their fair share of questions!
Their courses (built around Minecraft, Roblox, 3D Printing, video production, photography, and much more) are held at Florida Atlantic University and University of Miami, with even more across Florida—and 150+ locations nationwide. There are also a few different program offerings to choose from: iD Tech Camps (co-ed, ages 7-17, weeklong), Alexa Café (all-girls, ages 10-15, weeklong), and iD Tech Academies (co-ed, ages 13-18, 2-week).
In short, iD Tech talks to tens of thousands of parents every summer, helping them select the perfect course and the right location—and a program that fits their needs. They are routinely giving guidance to moms and dads about what to expect from camp, how to prepare, and how to make the most of the overall experience.
Here are five questions they suggest you ask when choosing a summer camp (and the ideal answers you should be receiving in your research).
How long has the camp been in business?
Every company, every camp, every expert has to start somewhere. So, it doesn’t mean that a brand new program can’t possibly provide value.
With that said, those organizations that have been in business for a while have accumulated years’ worth of experience; identifying what works, and what areas need to be tweaked for the next summer. After a while, there is no longer the need for major overhauls, or “trial and error” periods with their adjustments. Instead, a proven formula can be rolled out season after season—making for consistency and an experience that participants expect to be great year in and year out.
Who are the camp instructors (and how are they selected and trained?)
The type of camp should really dictate the type of instructors who are running it. Meaning, an academic camp wouldn’t be much of an educational experience if professional educators weren’t guiding the daily activities. Just like a basketball camp might fall a little flat if not led by skilled coaches.
From there, it’s up to you to determine whether or not instructor proficiency matches the experience you want your child to have. For instance, is it OK if your daughter’s basketball camp is run by a middle school PE teacher, or, do you want her to get training from a high school or even college basketball coach?
Some camps choose to have counselors in training run their programs, where teens looking for leadership experience serve as camp instructors. Other camps opt for employing all-adult instructors and pay them as staff professionals to run their operations. Such camps have stringent hiring and training processes in order to meet high standards.
iD Tech employs 2,000 world-class, tech-savvy, all-adult instructors who are recruited from the same prestigious universities where they hold their camps—and then trains them in-person (long before the first day of camp) to ensure they are sending only the most talented and passionate individuals to run their programs.
Speaking of instructors, what is the student to staff ratio?
In the typical classroom, you might be used to 30 students to one teacher. But at camp, those ratios should be much smaller, as kids will be out and about and more active than in your average school setting. Plus, small ratios allow for more personalized, hands-on instruction. If it’s a math camp, that means the instructor is able to really teach to the student and their needs, as opposed to rolling out blanket curriculum to all students.
At iD Tech, classes are guaranteed small, with just 5-10 students per instructor. Even though kids register for particular “courses,” the environment is far from being “school-like.” Curriculum is kept fresh, updated every year, resulting in courses that are cutting-edge and relevant to the future job landscape.
Throw in the aforementioned energetic staff, music in the labs, plenty of time for outdoor activities and campus exploration, and you’ve got a fun learning atmosphere that fosters new friendships—and looks nothing like the traditional classroom.
Where is camp held (and how does that impact the experience)?
The camp experience is more than just subject matter or activity. It really involves every aspect of your child’s day, from the aforementioned instructors who will be leading them, to the actual physical location where camp will be held.
So, will camp be held at a local park or elementary school? At the local museum? You can imagine how each atmosphere will offer its own unique experience, and possibly provide secondary benefits you might not have initially thought about when signing up.
Camps held on the campuses of prestigious universities, like the bulk of those from iD Tech, allow campers to get a taste of collegiate life, in addition to being local and convenient. Your child’s time at camp, then, could spark an interest in not only the STEM course discipline they signed up for, but also for the very university campus where they are attending camp. (In fact, a recent survey revealed that 97% of iD Tech students go on to attend a 4-year college!)
How will attending camp XYZ make your son or daughter better/more skilled?
Or, asked differently, what do you hope to get out of the camp experience?
It is 100% OK for you to use summer camp strictly for fun—without any care as to whether or not your child walks away learning something new. With them socializing and being independent, there is a pretty good chance your child grows in some capacity, no matter what.
These days, though, there is literally a camp for everything. The great part about that is if you know your son or daughter has a particular interest in a certain area, and you can find a camp to match, they’re likely to have fun—but at the same time, they’ll be building on their particular interest – and related skills – at the same time.
iD Tech programs instill in-demand skills that embolden students to shape the future. It is projected that 2.4 million STEM jobs will go unfilled in 2018. Thus, employers are desperate for people skilled in coding, robotics, artificial intelligence, software development, and other STEM disciplines.
Those who start young have much greater chances of securing such well-paying opportunities. In fact, many students leave iD Tech and then go on to launch their own startups, found non-profits, and land dream internships and jobs with the world’s most iconic companies.
So, hopefully, that helps in what will soon be your summer camp selection process!
For those with kids or teens interested in coding, game development, robotics, or design, check out iD Tech’s full list of courses here.
Exclusive to Local Mom Scoop readers, you’ll receive $75 off when you register with code LOCALMOMSCOOP18 before 5/31/18. Courses sell-out quickly. Get started today at www.idtech.com or call (888) 709-8324 for personalized course recommendations.