Calgary Herald

Camps encourage children to test the waters

- BY ALEX FRAZER-HARRISON FOR SUMMER CAMPS ROYALCITYS­OCCER.COM QUESTTHEAT­RE.ORG FORTCALGAR­Y.COM

With so many sports and activity day camps to choose from, finding the right one for Junior can be a challenge. That’s why camp organizers say it’s important parents — and even the kids themselves — do some research to make sure the camp they pick is the right fit. “We get every type of question; I don’t think there’s any question we haven’t heard,” says Rachael Aiken, program manager with Ontariobas­ed Royal City Soccer Club, which offers day-camp programs across Canada, including several in Calgary, for five- to 13-year-olds. “Research is extremely important,” she says. For example, “parents want to focus on ratios — how many supervisor­s are there for how many kids. “We also have a swimming portion of our day, so it’s important for parents to know about the safety of their child, and we have a tighter

supervisor-to-child ratio during the swimming portion.” Royal City Soccer, which started in Guelph, has offered day camps for 20 years, having introduced the love of the game to more than 100,000 kids. Aiken says this longevity has provided plenty of word-of-mouth and referral opportunit­ies for parents to investigat­e. “They want to know about our staff, their age and experience,” she says. Location is a big factor when investigat­ing a day camp because parents have to consider the logistics of getting their kids to and from the facilities, says Nikki Loach, artistic director of Quest Theatre. To address that concern, Quest added a northwest location for its one- and two-week Summer Drama Camps this year. The camp takes in budding Oliviers

and Annies as young as six. “Speaking as a mom, too, who is putting her six-year-old into camp for the first time, during that first day, it’s always harrowing for us,” says Loach. “So, we hire people to take parents’ questions and requests. You always want to have people who know what they’re doing.” Some of the questions Loach often hears include queries about whether lunch will be provided and, if applicable, whether before- or after-care is available. Parents should also keep in mind the safety aspect of the camp. At Fort Calgary, for example, some of the questions that often pop up involve whether the facility has people trained in first aid on site and if the children are able to roam off the premises. “We’re on 14.5 hectares of park-----

land that,” and says we education don’t take co-ordinator them off of Kelsey and up Ross who attend of the the kids fort’s age Join five the Ranks Rcmp-themed day camp. But most answers to the multitude of questions parents and kids have are just a point and click away, says Aiken. She says websites usually provide comprehens­ive informatio­n about camps and their background­s, though she adds parents still often bypass this and go straight to the source. Another aspect of finding the right fit for your child is a matter of discoverin­g his or her interests. A benefit of day camps, especially those that only run a week or two — or even just an afternoon — is you can let your kids test the waters. “Camps are a fantastic opportunit­y

to get your kids into a variety of situations and things they might not have tried before,” says Loach. “Our camp isn’t about making actors; it’s about getting kids to make new friends while skyrocketi­ng their spirit.” Ross says some camps, like those at Fort Calgary, offer many different experience­s through a single summer. “We’ve got about five different choices — you can sign up for different programs,” she says. Parents often are at a loss when it comes to discoverin­g what their child is actually interested in, and that is where camps come in, adds Aiken. “Instead of signing a child into a soccer league for an entire year, you can put them into a week of our camp to see how they do with soccer,” she says. “We are there to teach the basics, and hopefully, instil a love of the sport.”

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 ?? — Thinkstock Images ?? Summer camps are a great way for kids of all ages to experiment with interests and discover a new talent, hobby or sport.
— Thinkstock Images Summer camps are a great way for kids of all ages to experiment with interests and discover a new talent, hobby or sport.
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