There are many camps, conference centers, and retreats which offer special sessions tailored specifically for parent child participation. Often these mini sessions occur sometime just before or after the regularly scheduled core summer camp session and typically span the course of a long weekend. Some religious affiliated summer programs may offer more extensive parent-child programming options throughout the course of the summer season.
Such programs are often gender specific (Mother-Daughter or Father-Son), but most seem to be flexible as far as the allowance for a guardian or “special mentor” to accompany a child in lieu of a mother or father. Similarly, multiple children of the same gender are typically allowed to attend with a single parent. However, one of the major differences between a typical parent-child program vs. a typical family camp is that a parent-child camp is normally limited to a single parent. ( There are other differences, which may be addressed at a later date.)
Many parent-child programs allow for relatively younger children to attend — whereas normally they wouldn’t be old enough to attend a sleepaway camp independently. In this sense, parent-child programs might allow some younger children to get a “sneak preview” as well as to make what might be considered a smoother transition into living away from home at a residential summer camp in the future by having a “safety net” of a parent being close at hand while discovering a new environment.
Perhaps of greatest importance is the opportunity for a child to be engaged directly with one of their parents in a one-on-one (as well as group) situation which is conducive to a meaningful bonding experience which may carry over into everyday life outside of the context of camp.
Father-Son or Mother-Daughter pairs will typically participate in a relatively wide range of individual, group, and all-camp activities …. as well as communal dining, camp fires, games, and other special events – which will vary depending upon the particular nature of the hosting camp/facility and their general profile regarding programming in general. So, if a parent-child weekend is taking place at a traditional overnight camp, one might expect to experience a more rounded and general program offering vs. a father son weekend at a football camp (as one example) where the primary emphasis would be focused upon football and related activities. Similarly, religious camps may also incorporate religious or spiritual activities to some extent as a part of their parent-child program offering. The best way to find out about a particular program is to inquire upon the camp director and ask for an itinerary or schedule of activities/events.
In addition to spending quality time and creating life long memories, such programs might also offer parents a chance to be a kid again and escape the routine of “everyday life” for some special quality time with their kids in a unique setting.
Most programs will have at least a minimal complement of staff on hand to address: safety issues, meal service, general operations, as well as provide assistance with particular activities and to help coordinate special events.
While most camps are thrilled to make available their general facilities, it is important to ask the director if it’s expected of you to bring along any particular or special personal equipment such as sleeping bags, baseball gloves, special shoes, etc.
Costs will vary from camp to camp, but are often reasonable in light of the fact that rates may include: lodging, meals, scheduled activities, and general use of the camp facilities. Fees for additional children are also sometimes discounted.
Now is a great time to look into options regarding either a Father & Son camp or a Mother & Daughter camp for this summer!