Summer Camp in the US

Organization and activities

Summer Camp in the US

Going to summer camp is a long tradition in the US. Some 8 million children aged between 6 and 18 attend over 10,000 camps each year. Summer camp is considered to be an adventure and an important part of a child’s development, where he learns independence, self-sufficiency, responsibility and friendship.

Many children attend camp for two weeks only, although some go to camp for almost the entire ten weeks of the summer holiday.

A tipycal american summer camp

An American summer camp is usually a permanent structure, with separate areas for activities, administration and sleeping (in cabins called ‘bunks’). Camps are located in rural surroundings in areas of great natural beauty, usually close to a lake where there’s ample space and equipment for water sports, including canoeing, sailing, swimming and water-skiing. Other sports facilities may include tennis and basketball courts, riding stables, archery and rifle ranges, a golf course, plus open areas for field sports such as baseball and football.

Non-sporting activities may include arts and crafts (perhaps with a wood shop, craft shop, pottery studio and photographic darkroom), exploratory trips, campfires, science and the performing arts. Many camps have a dining hall and an amphitheatre, where the entire camp community can socialise. Although some camps specialise in the arts, most camps put the emphasis on physical outdoor activities; sing-songs, camp plays and concerts usually make up the indoor activities.

Organization and Activities

Many camps are lavishly equipped (even extending to electricity in the cabins), while others are more primitive and emphasise the back-to-nature element of camping. Some camps have no windows or bug screens in cabins and provide makeshift sports facilities only. Camps run by Boy or Girl Scout organisations usually have platform tents rather than cabins for sleeping, and concentrate on activities such as camp craft, hiking and canoeing. Camp staff (e.g. counsellors, office, cleaning and kitchen staff) often include university students, many of whom are recruited abroad by organisations such as Camp America.

Depending on your child’s personality, you may wish to choose a specialised or a single-sex camp rather than a more traditional camp. It’s possible to visit most camps and speak to the camp director or owners or attend a camp presentation in your area. Many of the best camps are accredited by the American Camping Association (ACA) or other associations such as the Western Association of Independent Camps.

There are various types of camps, including private or independent camps, organisational or agency camps (sponsored by organisations such as the Boy or Girl Scouts, YMCA/YWCA, Jewish Youth Centers, or a church or charitable institution), special needs or institutional camps, camps for the underprivileged, and day camps (where children attend during the day and return home in the evening).

This article is an extract from Living and Working in America. Click here to get a copy now.

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