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What is a Day Care's ‘Summer Camp’ and Why Do We Need It?

Updated on April 1, 2014

Besides the obvious reason, the need for daytime care, our children need Summer Camp for outdoor entertainment, physical exercise and an educational bridge between the two school years.

A day care's Summer Camp is a program that is much like school or after-school programs. The summer camp program will have field trips, swimming/playground water parks, and/or themed educational programs.

Sending your children to Summer Camp provides educational and physical benefits that they will not find sitting at home. Day cares have age limits, usually 5-13, for their camps but most are based on grade. For example, the children should have been in Kindergarten in May orup to fifth grade.

Though the Summer Camp may cost money, studies done by NAECY (the National Association for the Education of Young Children) state the importance of sending your children somewhere other than home or with a baby-sitter.

Children become bored with their surroundings quickly. Staying home with a baby-sitter or parent, even if the summer has been planned with loads of fun activities, will cause the child to cry "I'm bored" earlier than they would at a school-based program. This is because the child is in a familiar environment.

A paid program is required to make plans that not ensure a child's constant entertainment, but also continued education and physical activity.

Benefits of Summer Camp

  • Outdoor Entertainment

Combining two very important items some children are lacking in their daily lives - real entertainment and being outside, Summer Camp provides a safe way to get our children essential vitamins from the sun and entertainment that does not involve a controller or animated characters.

Twenty years ago, before everyone had a computer, video game or handheld device, children went outside breathed in fresh air and entertained themselves with imagination and a stick. imagination and entertaining themselves seems to be an archaic concept.

Attending a Summer Camp gets the children outside to play, move around, and have adventures rather than sit inside doing nothing but exercising their thumbs. Even the Wii isn’t enough exercise since most children know how to circumvent the purpose.

Field Trips Educate About Local Importance

Wildlife Prairie Park is an open animal reserve in Illinois
Wildlife Prairie Park is an open animal reserve in Illinois | Source
  • Physical Exercise

The Wii, which was created to connect video games with physical exercise, many of the games on this machine can be played in a Summer Camp program without using a controller. Making paper airplanes, learning golf, and seeking treasure can be done at the day care.

Any movement which lasts longer than five minutes can be counted as physical exercise. After teaching the children how to fold a paper airplane, for which there are many instructional books available, a teacher may take the children outside and have a distance, design, and airtime competition. This causes jumping, running around, getting excited and exercise.

A teacher may even teach the children golf, croquet or basketball. Have competitions. The children will enjoy the movement without realizing what they are doing.

Day cares have outdoor equipment, such as slides, that the children will play on. Day care regulations set down by their state require a certain amount of time each day that the children are given to play in the gym or on the playground.

  • Educational Bridge

Summer Camp isn’t just for exercise and breathing in clean, fresh air. Summer Camp is also a much needed extension of learning. Children learn better when they are having fun. This NAECY article is one of many that discuss the connection between education and play.

When children leave school for summer, they lose knowledge. Study's have proven this.

Subtly adding education into the summer routine provides the stimulation needed for retention. Adding in a little math, building, reading, and chemistry (cooking) can keep the children learning and possibly acquiring new skills.

Hands-on education helps retention.
Hands-on education helps retention. | Source

What Do You Think?

What's most important in a Summer Camp program?

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  • Not Just Babysitting

Day cares do not hire people just to baby-sit. The people running the Summer Camp are teachers. The laws in your state require people working in day cares have education credits, if not degrees, under their belts in order to work with children. They also have background checks and valid driver’s licenses.

A strict set of rules will apply to the children and the teachers. Schedules, trips to local museums and other educational places, food and fun are always parts of a day care camp, but not always part of the plan when the children are with a babysitter.

  • Conclusion

Enrolled in a Summer Camp provided by a day care, your child is not going to sit around watching television or playing board games. Getting them into a program at least for most of the summer, is beneficial to their health and education. Vacation and time off from learning are important, too, which is why a good program will include entertainment and field trips!


  1. My experience and years of education and teaching are a real-life reference for this article.
  2. Cooper, H. (n.d.). Interview by Johns Hopkins []. More than a hunch: Kids lose learning skills over the summer months., Retrieved from Documents/Curriculum/Kids Lose Learning Skills Over the Summer Months FINALCooper.pdf
  3. Teaching Young Children. (n.d.) A Conversation with Dr. Alison Gopnik.


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