A summer away at camp is the perfect opportunity for your children to develop important life skills, build enduring friendships and challenge themselves to overcome obstacles. Choosing a camp, on the other hand, can be an extensive process filled with price and activity comparisons and the ever  present “is my child ready” question.

MORE: Click here for Little Rock Family's Ultimate Summer Camp Guide.

As a mom of three past campers and a director at Kanakuk, here are a few ways I have encouraged other parents to successfully walk through the process.

1. Research is Your Friend

The summer camp options can seem endless, so thorough, proactive research is key. Keep in mind that many camps offer re-enrollment specials for returning campers and will begin to reach capacity as early as February and March. Be sure to look into things such as which specific activities your child will be able to participate in or what kind of child protection plan a camp offers to get an idea of the camp’s overall reputation.

2. Listen to Your Kids’ Point of View

While the ultimate decision of where to send your child to summer camp is yours, have an open conversation about what he or she is hoping to get out of the experience. Do your kids want to try several activities, or focus in on one particular skill? Are they wanting to meet all new friends, or would they like to travel with a few familiar faces from home? Once you have a better understanding of your child’s hopes and expectations, you can intentionally narrow down the list of potential camp destinations.

3. Consider Long-term Benefits

As a parent, it’s so important to know what character qualities or life skills you desire for your child when they leave your home at age 18. When we can have a long-term goal, it helps us look for  opportunities to allow them to grow into the person who will thrive, be productive and successful. With that said, it’s important to know your child’s strengths and areas where they might need to grow. Find camps that will not only be a safe haven, but will also be a place for them to learn how to overcome fears or make new friends or get better in a skill/sport that they are interested in.

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There is no better place than camp for your children to grow in their independence and develop crucial life skills. As you begin and narrow down your search, remind your child that you are excited for him/her to take this next step – and let the countdown to summer begin!

For a complete list of dozens of different in Arkansas and surrounding states, check out the 2019 Ultimate Camp Guide.