Summer camps are a wonderful way for children to meet new friends and develop new skills. Staying home also allows children to develop new skills, some of which involve deepening family relationships and leading a less structured life.
There are pros and cons to both summer alternatives.

Summer Camp Pros

Focus on an interest.
If a child has a special interest, there is probably a camp for that. Whether its photography or football, sailing or swimming, biking or horseback riding, many camps focus on one or a few core activities.

Learn about a new place or geography
Summer camps gather children in an environment different from their homes or schools. Sleepaway camps located in mountain hideaways, or island retreats offer kids a chance to learn about nature and the plants and animals of that region. Rustic camps provide a back-to-nature opportunities. Camps located in cities allow children to become comfortable with manuvering in that environment.

Become independent
Learning from others in a new environment continues the individuation work that children begin at school. During the warm summer months, the transition from home may be easier for some children. Sleep away camps offer further opportunites for children to learn to live on their own. Day camps also allow children time away from the home and the home environment.

Camps collect a different core group of children than a child’s usual friends. Even if a best friend or two accompanies the child to camp, a new mix of friends will introduce new social challenges and awarenesses.

Group philopophy enhancing
Camps that focus on one philosophy or religious direction allow children to bond with other like-minded peers, and receive guidance from adults with the same value set as their parents.

The cons of summer camps are that they take the children away from home, away from the influence of the family, and expose them to new enviroments that may cause homesickness. Some children are better off relaxing in a less structured lifestyle.

Staying Home Pros
Bonding with Family
Staying home in the summer allows a child to create a deeper bond with the family and neighborhood. Spending time together in a relaxed, unstructured way can grow the relationships with close friends as well.

Focusing interests
Staying home in the summer provides a child to focus on their interests without the interferance of a camp agenda. They and their family can decide what activities to include or exclude each day. If a child has a hobby or special interest, they can spend the summer investigating it in depth and at their own pace.

Structure relief
Staying home will generally be less structured than many camps, unless the parents are interested and able to create a disciplined routine. Many children thrive with time for their inner creativity and exploratory natures to develop. Time can be spent doing activities that the school year’s structure doesn’t allow, such as reading books, daydreaming, visiting local sites, hanging around a beach, playing with friends and dining with family.

Staying home for the summer might bore some children and tire parents. While exposure to more family time is valuable to some, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and children may actually appreciate their families more after an extended trip to summer camp. While camps allow a different set of adults to influence the children, staying home only enforces the same messages and interest of the family system. Allowing children to go to camp allows children to make independent choices and decisions their own.

Both camps and staying home offer valuable options for children during the summer months. Depending on the nature and needs of the child and their stage of development, families can review options of camps in their neighborhoods, sleepaway camps,

Author's Bio: 

Melanie Grimes, RSHom, (NA), CCH teaches homeopathy at Bastyr University, The Seattle School of Homeopathy, and the American Medical College of Homeopathy and serves on their Research Committee. A writer and medical editor, she edited The American Homeopath for 12 years and now edits Simillimum, Journal of the HANP. She created the first online interactive course in homeopathy, "Homeotalk", and lectures internationally.