Halloween has passed and Thanksgiving is looming — now is the time to nail down plans for your kids’ winter break.
It’s possible to find opportunities that don’t just keep your kids busy, but give them enriching experiences that will stay with them for the rest of the year.
Many winter camps are educationally-oriented and can bolster your child’s skills and confidence in specific academic areas. This is especially true if the camp’s focus is on a subject your child struggles with. She may find it easier to explore this topic in a relaxed environment where adults can spend more time with her, listening and talking through problems.
Perhaps the most significant aspect of the camp experience is the opportunity to break out of the routines of school, including the peer pressure and put-downs that often come with it. Camps aim to provide a physically and emotionally safe place with activities that help children mature academically and socially. Peter Scales, Ph.D., author, educator, and Senior Fellow at The Search Institute, says "The biggest plus of camp is that camps help young people discover and explore their talents, interests, and values.”
Just as with summer camps, the options for winter break camps are almost too numerous to list. In addition to general activity sessions, such as those provided by local YMCAs or Parks and Recreation Departments, there are specialty camps for every interest, age, and skill level. These range from outdoor nature studies to science, music, and the arts.
Winter Break Camp Options
Below is a sampling of some wonderful winter programs from across the nation.
Whether you live in a warm or cold climate, winter break is a great time to help your child reconnect with nature after several months of structured school life. Outdoor adventure activities are offered by a variety of nature-centric organizations such as public gardens, nature centers, and zoos.
Here are some examples of nature programs:
- Chicago Botanical Garden in Chicago, IL
- Dunwoody Nature Center in Dunwoody, GA
- Portland Audubon Society in Portland, OR
- Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, IL
Science museums and centers provide exposure to technology and engineering. From simple robotics activities to launching model rockets, your child will return home as a tried and true scientist.
Here are some examples of science programs:
- The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, PA
- Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa, FL
- Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley, CA
- Buffalo Museum of Science Discovery Camps in Buffalo, NY
Young musicians have options ranging, as one camp provider puts it, from Bach to rock. Your child can practice her favorite instrument, all while meeting other children who love playing music. Camps that provide programs about rock ‘n roll or rap have special appeal to teens.
Here are some examples of music programs:
- Bach to Rock available in California, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia
- School of Rock available in various locations nationally and internationally
- Community Music Centers of Atlanta in Atlanta, GA
Art museums are a good place to look for winter break programs in the visual arts, such as drawing, painting, and sculpting. This is a great opportunity for your child to express her creativity in a finished product.
Here are some examples of visual arts programs:
- Create Arts Center in Silver Spring, MD
- Los Angeles County Museum of Art in Los Angeles, California
- Glen Echo Park Partnership for Arts and Culture in Glen Echo, MD
Young drama queens and kings of various ages will enjoy winter break camps that feature dance, singing, and theater arts. Your child will learn about how to communicate with others and empathize with new characters, at the same time she is shining on stage.
You can explore the following theater arts programs:
- Adventure Theater in Rockville, MD
- Zach Theater in Austin, TX
- Seattle Children’s Theater in Seattle, WA
Whatever your enrichment goals or your child’s interests, there is undoubtedly a winter break opportunity available in or near your community that will fit the bill. Some simple searching of the Internet using the query, “winter break [area of interest] camps” will provide you with a host of fun and interesting programs to consider.
Benefits of Camp: Psychological Aspects. (n.d.). Retrieved November 15, 2014, from American Camp Association