Summer is almost here, which means it is an important time to start thinking about the best summer camps for your kids. Tampa Bay Parenting contributor and YMCA Camp Cristina Executive Director Mark Battig is here to talk about keeping kids active this summer through camp.
1) Why is it important to keeps kids active during the summer?
When kids are out of school, they can face hurdles that prevent them from reaching their full potential. Kids are less physically active and engaged in learning during the summer months. In fact, research shows that children gain weight two to three times faster during the summer vacation than during the school year.
2) Getting kids’ bodies moving is important, but what about their minds?
Kids—particularly from low-income families—fall behind academically because they don’t have access to out-of-school learning opportunities. In fact, by fifth grade, low-income kids are two to three school years behind middle-income children. This is often called the “summer slide” or “summer learning loss”…where kids lose what they learn during the school year over the summer.
3) How does summer camp help ensure campers are getting enough physical activity and educational opportunities?
Summer camp, like at the YMCA, can address critical gaps in kids’ health and education. Attending summer camp is beneficial to every child’s personal development. The experience teaches essential leadership and social skills and helps youth develop confidence and independence. Summer camp fosters peer friendships and adult mentoring relationships that have positive youth development effects, build resiliency and encourage healthy decision making. At the Y, for example…Summer Camp offers a fun and unique experience that gives children and teens the opportunity to meet new friends, explore nature, discover new interests, be physically active and create memories that last a lifetime. YMCA summer camp supports the social-emotional growth, cognitive development and physical well-being of kids, and provides an environment where kids can belong, build relationships and realize their potential.
4) What other fun activities/opportunities are available during YMCA summer camp?
At the Y, there is a camp program for everyone. From day camp to specialty camps for special needs kids, there is a suitable camp to meet the diverse needs of campers. Our camp staff are intentionally focused on helping youth develop by experiencing accomplishment, building friendships and creating a unique sense of belonging at camp. We also provide breakfast and lunch to all our campers at no extra cost.
5) Any tips for parents trying to incorporate healthier habits at home during the summer?
- High Five the Fruits and Veggies– Make sure kids get at least five servings a day, the minimum number nutritionists recommend to maintain healthy childhood development. And to keep kids’ taste buds evolving, have everyone in the family try at least one bite of a new fruit or vegetable at least once a month.
- Foster an Early and Ongoing Passion for Books– Read to and with your kids. Help children read at every age and every stage of their development.
- Team Up for Athletic Events – Set a family goal of great health by teaming up for community or charity events like races, walks, fun runs, bike rides, etc.
- Volunteer Together – Find a cause that matters to the kids. Open their eyes to a world beyond themselves and the rich rewards that come from making a difference.
- Make sleep a priority– Doctors recommend 10-12 hours of sleep a day for children ages 5-12 and 7-8 hours per night for adults. Sleep plays a critical role in maintaining our healthy immune system, metabolism, mood, memory, learning and other vital functions.
You can also discover more about summer camp at the Summer Splash Summer Camp Fair on April 9 at MOSI. Visit Summersplashtampabay.com for more information.