The school year is almost finished and the last day of school for kids in Duval County is this Friday. Licensed social worker and president and CEO of Daniel, Jim Clark says one thing he's found to be really important is letting kids have downtime.
"Kids are used to the busy school year schedule," Clark says. "So downtime is important. You can build downtime into your summer schedule. It’s really necessary and believe it or not moments of boredom can be moments of motivation!"
Clark says summer camps are a good option for parents, and choosing the right one starts with doing your homework. Clark says there are several things to consider:
What’s the goal for your child?
Does the goal for your child fit into the camp’s theme? (sports, nature, art, music, computers)
Visit the facility to meet the staff and see if the program meets the needs of your child:
Some camps cater to special needs (ADHD, disabilities, etc.)
Clark says one great resource for finding a camp is Duval County Public Schools.
"Many schools offer summer camps based on your child’s area of interest," Clark says, "from arts to sports camps."
"Another great resource is our local YMCA," Clark offers. "They offer both day camps and week-long camps for kids."
He says the day camps are offered at nearly 20 YMCA locations around town for kids from 5 to 12 years old.
The week-long sleep away camps are for kids 7 to 15 years old and they camp close to home at a campsite in Keystone Heights.
Clark says many parents think kids under 7 are too young to go to sleep away camp but he reminds parents to be flexible, because you know your child best.
Clark says the City of Jacksonville offers summer camps for kids of all ages, including teens under their JaxParks program. They even have camps just for teens age 13-17.
As for letting your child choose a camp Clark says remember to be age-appropriate. "Let them choose what camps or activities seem interesting to them. Just work with them and provide guidance on what works best. There’s so much structure during the year with school, this is a great time to give them some lee-way"
Clark encourages parents to remember there are many free options around town, from the beach to exploring local parks.
"You don’t have to travel out of town to find amazing things to do," Clark says. "And don’t forget to have your kids read, read, read"
You can find more information at the websites below:
Duval County Public Schools: http://www.duvalschools.org/static/aboutdcps/departments/special/care/summercamps.asp
City of Jacksonville: http://www.coj.net/departments/parks-and-recreation/recreation-and-community-programming/summer-camp/summer-camp-programs.aspx