Review: KinderCare’s Summer Camp program

Up until two years ago, my children were in daycare full-time, so summers were more of the ‘same old, same old’ for them. In fact back then, only my oldest was even in school yet, so summer ‘vacation’ really didn’t mean very much for us as a family in general.  Fast-forward two years and things are so very different now. First, both of my older girls are now in school for full days (third and first grade), so we’re definitely living according to the ‘school year’ calendar now. And while I’m still unemployed and home during the days, summer vacation is truly just that – a ‘vacation’, since we don’t have to get up in the mornings and hurry off to work and daycare.

With my kids being home during the summer, I start to find myself in the same position as every other ‘at home’ parent – how to entertain and amuse them for days, weeks and months on end… Without driving everyone crazy, that is. One option that I’ve been looking into more and more – especially for my oldest daughter, who thrives on the structured school day and pretty much falls apart over the lazy summer days, is summer camp. Not the sleep-away for the whole summer variety, but day camp, where kids spend the day away from home doing fun activities but are picked up at the end of the day and sleep at home. I’ve looked into camps offered by local cultural organizations and non-profit groups. I’ve even checked out some of scouting and YMCA camp options. But one possibility that had never occurred to me until recently, was to take a look at the programs offered by our local KinderCare center.

What they are (information courtesy of Mom Central):

KinderCare provides year-round daycare at approximately 1,700 centers located in 39 states and the District of Columbia. KinderCare Learning Centers are an accredited early childhood provider and offer a, “range of educational programs and after-school care for infants as young as six weeks old to school-aged children through age 12”. Run by specially trained, passionate teachers who fully embrace a balanced approach to learning, KinderCare Learning Centers aim to educate and entertain children within nurturing environment, and encourage strong communication between families and teachers.

Realizing how much kids crave summer adventures as it enables them to engage in a variety of activities, KinderCare Summer Camp surveyed nearly 3,000 kids to see how they would like to spend their summers. So what exactly did kids want? It turns out they had some strong ideas- they wanted adventures, arts and crafts, and trips- activities which often fall beyond the reach of busy Moms.

KinderCare responded by partnering with teachers to design a nationwide summer camp program to provide kids with new and interesting activities pertaining to their interests. They developed 12 unique week-long day camps with themes including Wild, Wild West, Wilderness 101, Dig Ancient Egypt, You’ve Got Talent!, Puppeteer Road Show, Gross & Gooey Science, Spectacular Sports, Animal Antics, Science Adventures, Art Expo, Kids’ Kitchen, Splish Splash, Surfs Up!, and Everyday Heroes. Whether you have an avid athlete, a budding scientist, or both, they can find something cool within KinderCare’s Summer Camps to engage their time. The weeklong timeframe of the camps also gives Moms the flexibility to sign their kids up for as few or many sessions as they’d like.

Here’s my take on it:

So first I need to come right out and state that I don’t have any personal experience with KinderCare at all – whether for summer camps or just regular childcare. I have checked into them in the past while looking for childcare, but the expense has always been much greater than we could afford, so we have always used family home daycares for our kids. I’m not opposed to centers in general – but I do feel strongly that my own kids should be in a home setting, at least when they’re little. Now that my kids are getting older, I think a center would be a good option once I start working again – if we can afford it.

So having said that, I checked with our local KinderCare center to find out their options for the Summer Camp program this year, because as I said above, I would absolutely love to find some kind of camp program for my oldest daughter. She needs the structure and the challenge that school provides, and during the summer I think that camp would be the next best thing. One thing I liked immediately about KinderCare’s program is that they provide day camp for the entire summer – 12 full weeks, but each week has a different theme, so it’s not like the kids are doing the same things day in and day out. There’s some variety there to keep them from getting bored, and that’s a huge deal – especially for a program that I’d be paying for my child to attend. I’m not sure how well she would like every single weekly theme – but ones like Kids’ Kitchen, Art Expo and Animal Antics would be right up her alley.

I visited the KinderCare website and checked out the Summer Camp program. I was easily able to find our local center and request information directly from them. I provided my e-mail address and marked that I preferred to be contacted via e-mail. Literally within minutes I had a response that gave me general information about the local program along with contact information for the center’s director. I replied back with a question about the cost for the program and received a personally-written e-mail back from the director about 30 minutes later. I also received a second e-mail a week or two later, from the KinderCare Customer Relationship Center offering further information and the possibility of setting up a tour if I wished.

My biggest stumbling block when it comes to day camp is the cost, especially while I remain unemployed. The Summer Camp through KinderCare would cost over $50 more per week per child than I was paying for our family home daycare while I was working. With three kids, that would be a considerable difference. If we could afford it, I would absolutely love to sign our kids up – the range of activities, field trips and opportunities for them to interact with other kids is so much greater through KinderCare, but it’s just not a possibility right now. I will definitely be keeping them in mind for the future though, especially once I am working again.

The bottom line:

KinderCare’s Summer Camp program offers parents a fun variety of activities for their kids during the challenging summer months when kids are home from school and looking for something to do. With 12 unique weekly programs, kids don’t have to worry about doing the same activities/crafts more than once and there’s sure to be a theme or two that pretty much every kid will enjoy. Whether you’re looking for summer-long care or just to fill up a week or two, KinderCare is a great option to check out in your area.

Where can you find them?:

You can find out more information at the KinderCare website at http://www.kindercare.com/summercamp. On the site you can locate the KinderCare location nearest you and contact them directly for more information.

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of KinderCare and received a gift certificate to thank me for taking the time to participate.

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