1. Look at your child’s school calendar to determine the last day of this school year and the first day of next year.
2. Cross-reference those dates with your personal and family calendars to see if you have any plans for family reunions, graduations, church or community obligations, vacations, etc
3. Determine what hours of coverage you need each day. If you work from 8am-5pm, those wonderful little camps from 9-11am that require you to pick up in the middle of the day won’t work. Similarly, if you are a stay-at-home mom who was needs larger blocks of time to accomplish some tasks or you just need to have some quiet time to maintain sanity, the 9-11am camps might not be the way to go. BE REALISTIC!
4. Decide if you are open to overnight camps or if day programs are the only options you and your family feel comfortable with right now.
5. Plan. Once you have the time parameters laid out, plan out each week’s activities (you probably need to cover 6-12 weeks) based on the following factors:
- Are there any academic needs your child has – either something they had trouble with in school or you need to catch up on from this year or subjects on which you would like to get ahead for next year?
- What fun activities can your child do in the summer that are hard to do during the school year, i.e. a YMCA camp with horseback riding and archery, a marine biology program, learning to swim or a summer at the zoo opportunity.
- What kinds of enrichment programs might spark their imagination or even help them to think about future career possibilities, i.e. a science or engineering camp.
6. Research. Go online, call friends, do whatever you can to research the options still available in your area.
7. Set a goal. Make it clear, concise and reasonable. For example, “I will spend 15 minutes online today looking for possible summer camps,” or “Today is May 1st, I will check into at least 3 possibilities by May 8th.”
8. Don’t Stress! The whole purpose of creating a plan is to map out where you want to go. Stress comes when you sit down in a chair and think, “Oh no, I have no idea what I am going to do.” Peace comes from being pro-active and creating a plan to meet the challenge ahead.
Rev. Frances Cudjoe Waters is an Associate Pastor at Hamilton Park United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas. She is a writer, blogger, preacher, teacher, wife, mother, media watcher and woman on a mission. Her goal is to help others to find their passion and God-given purpose using Romans 12:2 as the guiding scripture for her ministry, “Be Transformed by the renewing of your minds…” Rev. Frances is a graduate of Stanford and Harvard Law School and resides happily. Dallas, TX with her wonderful husband of 16 years and their three amazing sons.