You’ve made the exciting decision to send your child to overnight camp. Among the many considerations parents have is what session length to choose. There isn’t one session length that’s better than another. You just need to think about what’s best for your child and your family’s needs.
1-2 Weeks: One or two weeks at camp will give your child the opportunity to experience independence, try new activities, and meet new people. Keep in mind that it can take campers a week or more to adjust to camp and some time to develop friendships, so by the time these things happen, it’s time to go home.
Short Session Camps (3-5 Weeks): A pure short session camp offers camp for a few weeks. Campers in the session arrive together and leave together, making it easy to form friendships. Short session camps offer a “complete” summer with a true beginning, middle, and end. Short session camps are a great option if you plan on continuing to send your child to camp for short sessions in future summers. Short session camps are great for families who would like to send their child to overnight camp but still have time in the summer for a family vacation, time at home, or other summer programs.
Keep in mind that if you are choosing a short session camp because you are worried about sending your child to camp for a long time, you may be limiting your child in the future if the camp only offers a few weeks. Don’t test out summer camp with your child at a short session camp that doesn’t offer the option to stay for a longer period of time if your ultimate goal is to find a longer camp experience. You don’t want your child to become a part of a pure short session camp community and then have to have them change communities to add additional weeks of camp to their summer.
6 Weeks: Some camps offer the opportunity to go for six weeks which gives campers time to become part of the camp community and take part in various activities offered at camp. If the camp is not a session camp, there may be campers that go to camp for two or four weeks at the camp, which means some of your child’s friends may have left at those points while your child is staying on.
7 Weeks (Full Session): Seven weeks is considered a “full session” camp. It gives campers more time to adjust to camp, become immersed in the camp community, and connect with the camp’s traditions. It also gives children plenty of time to form deep friendships and to develop skills learned at camp. While seven weeks sounds long to many families, you have to think of future summers for your campers. As he or she gets older, he may want more time at camp. Many resident camps offer two week or four week introductory sessions for first time campers and for the youngest age groups which is a good way to get accustomed to camp life.