The holidays are over, so now it’s the time of year that many working parents dread: summer camp registration. It can feel like running a gauntlet with an so many weeks to fill, different registration dates and, of course, your kids’ preferences to keep in mind. And the stakes are high – my sister-in-law swears that they ruined their summer last year by doing a poor job scheduling camps for their two kids. If you don’t want to end up like them this year, here are some ways to build a successful summer schedule for your family:
One of the challenges of scheduling a summer of camps is that different providers start registration at different times. Your goal is to try to figure out what camps you want and for which weeks before registration opens. Then you can set a reminder for yourself to book the camp on the morning registration starts. So when does registration start? For overnight camps I recommend beginning to check in December. By January they will be registering and many sessions will be filled. For day camps, begin checking in January as most start to register in January or February.
Set aside uninterrupted time for planning.
For busy parents, we know this isn’t an easy thing to come by! Maybe order a pizza and let the kids watch a movie one evening while you sit down to do the research and create your plan.
Make a list of your requirements.
Here are some things to consider: budget, dates (which weeks you need to book a camp), location (if you need something that works with your work commute), hours/aftercare (to work with your drop-off and pick-up schedule) ages (particularly important if your kids are young, as there are fewer options for 4-5 year olds), indoor/outdoor preference, topics of interest for your kids, and any friends you want to coordinate with.
Research, research, research.
Of course I’m biased, but Campanizer is the absolute best place to start your research. There are hundreds of camp listings to search and sort through with all of the important details like ages, dates, times, locations, descriptions. When you find a camp you may be interested in, add it to your Saved Activities. Keep searching, and keep saving. You’ll create a big list of possible camps that you can come back to and start slotting into different weeks in your summer schedule.
Draft your schedule.
Once you’ve created a list of Saved Activities with a bunch of camps you’re interested in, try using our new Calendar view to slot them into the weeks of your summer. To do this, go to your Saved Activities and click Select Sessions to choose the date(s) you want. Once you do this, you’ll be able to see this activity when you go to the Calendar view. This way you can see which weeks you have covered and where you need to fill in.
Register as soon as possible.
If some of your camps haven’t opened registration yet, mark your calendar with the dates to remember. If registration is open, grab that spot and don’t look back. Many camps fill quickly, and you don’t want to have your perfect schedule all laid out only to have it fill up before you get around to executing. (Don’t ask me how I know…)
Share your plans.
Camp is more fun with friend! An easy way to share your plans with other parents who may wish to coordinate their schedule with your is to click the Share Activities button – you can send them a link to see your full activity schedule. (No more endless texting back and forth!) This also works great for sharing information with a partner or nanny.
Scheduling up to 11 weeks of camp is no small job, but with a little planning you can set your kids up for a summer of adventure, learning and fun. If you have any problems, my fellow camp experts at Campanizer would love to help – get in touch here!