Do Siblings Need to Go to Overnight Camp Together?

New York YMCA Camp

In an ideal world, most parents with more than one child prefer to send their children to the same camp. It’s easier logistically to have your children in the same place and often parents would like siblings to have the same camp experience. While sending your children to the same camp may be easier and preferred, one camp may not always fit the needs of each of your children.

When looking for a camp for your older child, it’s always great to think about subsequent siblings, however, you shouldn’t try to fit a square peg into a round hole. Try to think of each child as an individual and choose the best camp for that child. If your children have very different interests, it’s going to be difficult to find one camp that will fit both of their needs. For example if one of your children is extroverted and very into sports, but your other child is more introverted, into the arts, and needs more nurturing, there is a chance one camp may not work for both of their needs. Even when it comes to the length of a camp session, you may find that your children require different amounts of time away from home. You may also find that after one summer with both children at the same camp, one may not have had as successful a summer as the other. Don’t be afraid to switch camps. Work with the camp director to find a better fit for that child.

Jason Sebell, director of Camps Kenwood and Evergreen, brother-sister camps in New Hampshire, says: “All camp directors want children to be successful wherever they go to camp and for some of our families, that means all of their children will go to the same place, but sometimes, interests, needs or desired outcomes for a child are different. We hope to help our families figure out whether we are right for one, some, or all of their children.”

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Alicia M, a mom from Westchester County, started her search thinking her son and daughter would go to camp together but as she began her research, it became clear that it wasn’t the best decision. “My son is very sporty so I realized he would be better at a boys camp,” she says. She chose a camp with a sister camp close by, assuming her daughter would go there. “When we went to visit the boys camp my son would ultimately go to, we never visited the sister camp but we assumed our daughter would go there. After my son went to camp and had a great summer, we toured the sister camp but didn’t get a good vibe from it,” Alicia says. “We then started to look at other options and found a co-ed camp we really liked. It was not my intention for my children to be at camp in two different states but it was the right decision for our family.”

There are certainly benefits to sending your children to the same camp. Parents only need to deal with one leadership team, communication will be from one camp only, logistics will be less complicated, visiting day will be on the same day and siblings will be getting a similar camp experience. All of these benefits certainly make life easier for the parents but if your goal is to give your child the best possible camp experience, you have to make a camp decision based on what is best for each of your children. “There are benefits to having siblings go to camp together and it’s certainly more convenient for parents, but all children are individuals and if a child is going to have greater success in another program or community, a good camp director will try to be the best advocate they can be for your child and recommend a different summer camp program,” Sebell says.

Sebell offers parents some good advice when choosing camps for siblings. “If you are interested in sending your child to camp, you are doing it because you want to give them the greatest gift you can. And one size does not fit all,” he says. “Find a community and a camp leadership team who will be the best partners for you in helping to raise your children and one that will be honest and always have your child’s best interests at heart. That way you know, down the road as younger children reach camp age, they will be the best advocates in telling you whether or not this camp that is right for your older one is either the place or not for your younger child.”