The end of the school year is fast approaching, and long, warm summer days are just around the corner. But what does that mean for families? Kids spending more time at home in front of screens? Hopefully not! Research released last week by YMCA Canada shows parents report their kids are less active on weekends and during summer holidays than they are during the school year.
The 2014 Active Healthy Kids Canada report card on physical activity for children and youth indicates that kids ages five to 11 spend 7.6 hours a day being sedentary—that’s like a full-time job! Why not challenge this trend with a summer full of physical activity and lots of fun at the same time? Summertime is the perfect time for kids and families to get outside and be active—camping, swimming, biking and so much more.
For busy working parents, it’s hard to keep kids engaged while school is out. Fear not! Organizations like the YMCA of Greater Vancouver offer a s’moregasbord of day and overnight camps to keep kids having fun, being active and playing outside, all summer long. Heck, they even offer family camp.
“Summer camps are the perfect way to help get kids active, outdoors and away from TVs, tablets and computers,” says Cathy Poole, General Manager of Healthy Child Development for the YMCA of Greater Vancouver. “At Y camps, kids receive an absolute minimum of 90 minutes of physical activity each day—sports, games, swimming—whatever it is, we get kids moving and having a whole lot of fun at the same time.”
Not sure where which Y camp is right for your family or how to best prepare for the best possible experience? Here are three steps to an awesome camp experience for your child:
Step 1: Choose your camp type
Consider whether your child is ready for overnight camp. Being away from parents can be tough, but is a great way for kids to gain independence and learn about themselves. Day camps are a great way to get kids active during the week while you are at work.
Cost: $147+ per week
At more than 20 locations throughout Vancouver, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Richmond, Surrey, White Rock, Langley, Chilliwack and Gibsons, the Y has a wide variety of traditional and specialty day camps to keep kids engaged throughout the summer.
Activities vary by location and camp type, but may include: swimming, canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding, fishing, ropes courses, geocaching, arts & crafts, hands-on science workshops, scrapbooking, archery and much more. Traditional and specialty outdoor adventure, golf, mountain bike and youth leadership day camps available.
Cost: $658+ per week
Located on B.C.’s Sunshine Coast near Gibsons, just a 40-minute ferry ride from Vancouver, YMCA Camp Elphinstone boasts 144 acres of oceanfront property and temperate rainforest perfect for all ages. Whether it’s exploring the rocky shoreline in a canoe or getting a bull’s-eye in archery in the old growth forest, these camps offer something for everyone. YMCA Camp Elphinstone offers cozy accommodation with new lodges and rustic cabins, and nutritious, delicious meals in the dining hall.
Activities include: swimming, canoeing, kayaking, sailing, paddle boarding, fishing, high & low ropes courses, climbing, archery and much more. One- and two-week camps available, in addition to shorter weeks for little ones. Family camps and specialty sailing, hiking, biking, canoeing and kayaking camps also available.
Step 2: Talk to your child
The first day of summer camp means something different to each child. For the teenager who goes to camp every summer, it’s a chance to reconnect with camp friends, but for the child going to camp for the first time, it can be a scary experience with parents and kids wondering what to expect.
Talk to your child about what going to camp means—discuss what types of activities she or he might do, what they can expect during a typical day and if it’s an overnight camp, be sure to consider what it means to be away from home. Check out what information is available online and read with them about the camp has to offer.
Step 3: Pack appropriately
You can never be too prepared! “A water bottle, sunscreen, hat and weather appropriate clothing are the most important things parents should send with their kids to camp,” says Poole. Our temperate but unpredictable west coast climate makes layering the best bet to respond to changing weather. The Y dedicates an entire web page to preparing for camp!
Another great thing about YMCA Camps is their extended payment plans or the YMCA Financial Assistance program, which ensures every child has access to a summer camp experience. We all know that summer camps and children’s programs are a costly expense for families, but the Y tries to make it easier on parents by offering a little help. This year, they are also offering a 10% discount when you register with a friend.
Organizations like the Y are committed to helping families and kids live healthier lives, and summer camp programs help do just that. To learn more or to register for YMCA summer camps, visit vanymca.org/camps or call 604-939-9622.
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