By Jill “Mamabug” Frier

The summer months are coming soon and local parents are looking for ways to keep their kids busy or provide weekly childcare while they are out of school. One solution many parents take advantage of is summer camp. Here are some tips for finding the right summer camp, either in person or virtual, for your kids this year.

Why Summer Camp is Important
In person camp is a place where kids can safely roam and play in a way they often aren’t allowed to in their own neighborhoods. In a virtual environment, summer camp can provide kids with entertainment, learning, and stimulation outside of their normal routine.

Whether they are at day camp all summer, specialty camp for a week or two, online camp, or overnight camp, kids can let loose and have fun with other kids outside of a school or home environment. Not only are summer camps a great way for your kids to have fun and stay active during the months they are out of school, they also teach kids important life lessons like how to make new friends and gain independence.

How to Pick the Right Camp for Your Kid
There are a lot of options for parents and kids to choose from when deciding which type of camp to pick. You can choose anything from traditional overnight camp, to science camp where kids go daily to conduct experiments and learn about different STEM-related topics, to soccer, art, gymnastics, theater, karate, basketball, and more.
Some things to consider when deciding on the right camp:
• Know Your Goal: Do you need ongoing care for your child every day, or do you just want to get them out of the house for a while to have fun with other kids? Do you want them to get plenty of exercise? Learn a new skill? Grow academically? Improve their musical or artistic abilities? Pick a camp that meets the goals you have for your child.
• Know Your Child’s Interests: Discuss the different camps available with your child and see what things interest them. Understand the age range suggested by the camp and any skill sets they may be required to have. You can broaden their horizons by letting them try new things, but be aware of their limitations and the things they don’t like.
• Know Your Budget: Summer camp can cost a lot of money, especially if you send your kid to a specialized place. Be sure that you consider all of the expenses involved, including equipment, meals and extras. There are also a variety of options that you can make work to fit your budget. Look for nonprofit organizations, public parks and recreation venues, community centers and libraries, and online offerings for lower cost options for summer camp.
• Be Aware of Time Constraints and Locations: Summer camp can be a big help to working parents who need a place for their kids during the summer break, but note the drop off and pick up times to make sure they work with your schedule. Also be sure to plan around any known vacation or time off you have.
• Start the Search Now: The time to start doing homework for the right camp for your kid is now, before camp schedules get booked up and vacation time is planned. Do your research, read the fine print, talk to your child, and make sure that the camp or camps you pick work best for everyone in your family.

COVID-19 Safety Factors
No doubt about it, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult to know which summer camp options are best for your camper. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) provides some guidelines and suggestions for limiting exposure to COVID-19 in onsite summer camp environments; you can see the full list at The main takeaways are similar to procedures that children may already be familiar with: wear properly fitted masks, be sure to social distance, and always wash hands. Consider packing your camper multiple masks and their own hand sanitizer.

Some factors you should consider when looking for an in person camp for your child are: encouraging behaviors that reduce the spread of the virus, maintaining a healthy environment and hygienic facilities operations, and having the right procedures in place to deal with an individual who becomes sick. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!

To see a list of camps across the Valley, visit

Be sure to check for more ideas for having fun outside and out of the house this summer in Arizona.