Blog: Bright Ideas

Middle School Summer Camps: How to Pick the Right Program for Your Pre-Teen

While the middle school years can be a bit tumultuous, they are also a transformative time, as kids grow in confidence and become young adults. Pre-teens go through a lot both physically and emotionally. Changes are vast and sometimes they are really hard for both kids and for parents. While pre-teens are nearing early-adult years and often seeking greater independence, connection and support is critical. 

Abstract thinking skills in particular develop during this time as kids begin to understand the world and envision their role in it. They ask a lot of questions and formulate their own opinions, perhaps challenging authority. Picking the right middle school summer camp for your pre-teen can support this transformation in a truly substantial and meaningful way. This time, usually starting around 5th grade and continuing through middle school, definitely has its challenges, but watching your kid grow up and become more sure of who they are and who they want to be can also be a joyful experience.

Benefits of a Middle School Summer Camp

A summer camp can fulfill many needs both for parents seeking activities when school is out and kids who are likely to benefit from the amazing things that camp can offer, including:

  • The opportunity to alternate “screen time” with “green time.” Green time is a chance to get outdoors, to get a little dirty, and to connect with the natural world. Computers are integral to our world today, but a great camp will also ensure that kids have opportunities to be outside and engaging in physical activity. This helps give pre-teens the tools they need to maintain a healthy balance between these two important aspects of their lives.
  • An educational summer program exercises kids’ cognitive skills. Counteracting the inevitable learning loss that occurs when kids “veg” all summer can sometimes be tough, but camp activities are the perfect way to help achieve this.
  • Organized summer programs provide supervision. For those tweens who are gaining more autonomy, but not quite ready to stay home alone, a low staff-to-camper ratio can help them feel equally independent and supported.
  • Kids benefit from being a valued member of a team or group. This sense of belonging can combat alienation and loneliness during summer vacation, especially during the vulnerable pre-teen years.
  • Summer camp is an ideal opportunity to develop soft skills. These skills include improving time management, fostering a positive attitude, and strengthening social and communication abilities.
  • Specialized summer programs offer an opportunity to “go deeper.” For kids with strong personal interests, experiencing a concentration or major will allow them to explore their interests in greater depth than ever before.
  • Social circles can grow. Camp programs introduce new friends outside of kids’ school and immediate neighborhood, demonstrating that “community” is a far-reaching idea with broader implications beyond what kids typically experience in their regular day-to-day interactions.

What is the Right Program?

With many quality programs available, picking the right program for your pre-teen may present a challenge. Talking to kids and presenting options is a great place to start. To many, camp means sleep-away, and some kids are ready for this experience. A week or more at an overnight camp may be just what they’re looking for as they strive for independence. Or, perhaps your middle school athlete wants to work on endurance over the summer or is thinking about trying out for a new team in the fall. In addition to summer sports leagues, a variety of athletic camps and clinics open up, offering sport-specific conditioning and skill building.

Summer Camps @ The Tech camper works on virtual reality project.For kids on a quest to immerse themselves in a passion or dabble in something new, there are awesome innovation camps to satisfy their interests. Science, arts and technology are but a few of the topics on which they can focus. For motivated kids or those who enjoy challenge, Galileo Summer Quest has numerous options among its program majors, all built on the foundation of the Galileo Innovation ApproachⓇ

Catapult Builders and Go-Karts involve engineering challenges that use tools to construct working inventions, while Mystery Room: The Great Escape requires teamwork and critical thinking for super sleuths to succeed. Creativity is highlighted in majors such as Chefology, where kids whip up inspired kitchen creations, and YouTube Producers, which provides the opportunity to merge technology and entertainment as they produce and post their own videos. Gamers have a choice of Mobile Game Design and Mod Design with Minecraft, while kids who love combining design and technology will have a hard time deciding between Robot Pet, Virtual Reality and 3-D Modeling & Printing.

Voice and Choice When it Comes to Middle School Summer Camp Programs

Keeping kids actively engaged in summer activities is good insurance against boredom, mischief and listlessness. Finding the right middle school summer camp is an important decision, and allowing pre-teens some voice and choice in how they spend their summer goes a long way toward supporting their burgeoning independence. Though fear of failure may motivate some kids to avoid new experiences, a program that builds resilience and teaches kids to persevere can counteract doubt and help kids overcome low self-esteem, and a recent Stanford study even demonstrated how Galileo is achieving this. A daily schedule that includes time to learn, time to build and create and an opportunity to chill with friends can be an ideal way to support the young adults they are becoming. 

Check out the Galileo Summer Quest majors in your area: SF Bay Area, Southern California, and Chicagoland. Sign up for our mailing list to keep up-to-date on our camp happenings and innovation resources. Or, for more information about Galileo camps, contact us here.