Homeschoolers at Summer Camp

Are you sending your homeschooler off to summer camp this year? I sent my youngest. She’s 14 and wanted to attend the camp we chose. I think there are real benefits, but our reasons for sending her might not be the same as the reasons her peers are there.

Over the years, my kids have participated in several different summer camps. Summer camps come in a wide variety of styles, so before we talk about sleep-away camps, let’s dig into some other experiences.

Classes and Lessons

I have found that various educational programs run short summer sessions that can be the perfect way to test out a new class. I wouldn’t call many of them camp, but some of them advertise themselves that way. I am a huge fan of this option. It can be a great way to test out a dance class or music teacher with less commitment. Finding out if your highly sensitive child will get along with a teacher or class situation in a short-term class can be perfect. It can help you decide if your child will take more classes during the school year.

Day Camp

My oldest kid with the mountain dulcimer at camp years ago.

My kids have participated in several music-based day camps over the years. My favorite, Mountain Music Camp, was hosted near my hometown. My kids stayed with my mother and got a week of small-town life while attending. The camp was super affordable ($50) and taught the kids to play an instrument, no experience required.  We live in the suburbs of a large city, so this was a cultural experience for the kids. The combo of staying with grandma and going to a day camp was a way to create our own, low-cost, sleep-away camp.

If you have the option to send your child to live with a relative for a week and participate in a day camp, this can be great for everyone. In our case, Grandma didn’t have to figure out what to do with the child all day. My kid got to experience all the fun of the camp all day. Grandma only needed to provide dinner and some interesting activities in the evening, like a trip to see a movie or a visit to a local park. My kid slept well, after all those activities, too.

The other benefit of sending the kids to camp in my rural hometown is that the cost is far less than any activity where I live. That fact offsets the cost of the gas to get there.

All that said, we have also done summer camp experiences in our area and I’m always open to looking at local options. Your local YMCA or Rec Center probably offers day camps. I have also found a variety of options through Facebook groups where business owners share about a week they are hosting camp during the summer.

Overnight Camps

My youngest at camp this summer.

I never went off to camp as a kid, but when I was a child it seemed like a big deal. When my oldest went to Girl Scout camp several years ago, as a middle schooler, she met kids who were signed up for round after round of sleep-away camp for the summer. Their working parents were using it as a childcare option. As a result, she met girls who were attending public and private schools.

She has several food allergies, including gluten and corn, and the camp struggled some with feeding her. However, she overall felt it was a good experience. She learned lots of classic camp things and held her own with other kids. Girl Scout camp appears to be partially funded through cookie sales, so it was less expensive than some of the sleep-away camps we looked at.

This year, my youngest attended a forestry camp for boys and girls in our state. This camp was also incredibly affordable ($95) for accepted campers, due to a local grant.  It took place at a 4-H camp, and she learned a lot! She is interested in a possible career in forestry, and that is what the camp was focused on.

The camp had several classes that sounded more like school than a summer camp. So, her dyslexia and dysgraphia were issues a few times. Despite that, she didn’t seem upset. She just didn’t finish some of the assignments. Because it was a camp and not school, there were no consequences for not finishing her essay on how streams impact a forest.

This camp was run Monday to Friday with the kids needing dropped off and picked up during typical working hours. This meant that it was not being treated as a daycare, and was instead focused on the camp’s purpose more. In this case, helping teens explore a possible career path in forestry.  If you are choosing a camp for your child, weighing the possible pros and cons, should include learning all you can about the camp and why the other campers are there.

The week did have some unexpected learning experiences. My daughter spoke to public school kids who talked about how prevalent drugs were in their schools. I’ve also known of parents who say their child was shown porn or told negative things about sex by public school students they met at camp. The risk of what other children will share at camp is a problem that we are avoiding by homeschooling. For us, the single week of camp felt like a small risk, but your family should weigh the risks for yourself and your child. Details about the camp, and what electronic devices the campers have may influence your decision.

Overall, I am very glad my daughter tried this sleepaway camp. She learned tons of things about trees and forestry, while also having fun with archery and other camp experiences. She got a taste of school, without the stress and pressure of grades. She also won the Jill and Jill log sawing competition! I feel like these experiences will make her more well-rounded, and that is one of my goals for my children.


Oh, hi there!
It’s nice to meet you.

Sign up to receive our latest blog post, news about sales, and sneak peeks of new products in your inbox.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.


About the Author

nimble_asset_Laura-in-floral-shirt-with-treesLaura Sowdon, OTR/L is an occupational therapist, writer, speaker, educator, and creator of the Five Senses Literature Lessons homeschool curriculum. She has worked as an occupational therapist with children in public and private schools, as well as private practice. Laura has taught and managed homeschool co-ops as well as homeschooling her own three children. Laura is dedicated to the idea of educating children at a pace that aligns with brain and physical development milestones and respects neurodiversity in all its forms.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.