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Rae Largura: Is an Overnight Camp Right for Your Child?

It makes you feel like you’re that mother bird on National Geographic pushing her little fledging out of the nest hoping he flies. Sending a child off to an overnight camp for the first time can feel like you've become an instant “empty nester.” Children may find that flying on their own is difficult.

So when is an overnight camp a right choice for both parents and the child?

Appropriate Age

Generally camps allow children to start as young as 7 or 8 years old. They can continue on as Counselors in Training (CITs) up to age 18. Even if a child is old enough to attend camp, it is up to the parent to determine the maturity level and desire of their child in order to ensure a successful camp experience. If your child is uncertain, try a week-long camp close to home.

Type of Camp

Camps are as diverse as people. If you can think of a specialty, there is probably a camp for it. There are camps for sports, programming, art, music, spying, space, Hollywood stunts, trapeze, DJing, adventure — the options are endless. Consider what would keep your child excited to stay there, ultimately leaving with a valuable life experience.


Prices vary but camps are not inexpensive. Costs for a weekly camp can run as low as $150 per week going all the way up to $12,000 or more for a traditional two-month program. If there is the affordability, it can be a good investment in your child gaining new friendships, greater independence and new skills.


The most ideal way to evaluate a camp is by talking to other parents whose children have attended. It’s important to do your research to know the “real world” life of the camp. Do not rely on just a website or even the admittance counselor for complete information. Get more photos or videos if possible. Know what percentage of children return each year. If your child can attend with a friend, it subsides the initial fear even though he will make new friends anyway.

There has never been a child in the history of summer camp who has died of homesickness, mosquito bites or camp food. What is most important is that you help your child use the summer break wisely to grow and flourish so when that day comes to let them fly out of the nest, they soar into the clouds and reach new heights.

Any subject, any grade: What is your question for a tutor? Email [email protected].

— Rae Largura is president of Leading Edge Tutors. The opinions expressed are her own.

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