Summer camp stress: what parents need to know before registering (soon)

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- It’s not too early to think about, and more importantly, register for your kids’ summer camps.

MSCR, which hosts summer camps, also hosts after-school activities at Midvale Elementary School.

Registration season has many parents preparing and stressed. Camp directors say the height of registration is between January and March, although some sites began sign-ups as early as December.

In January, slots at Camp Wingra filled up in just ten minutes, according to camp director Summer Jarosky.

“It’s pretty typical for everybody to jump on the camps at the same time, knowing that they open at 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning,” she said.

Camp leaders say finding the right camp is just as important as registering at the right time.

The American Camp Association (ACA) has a tool called Find-a-Camp that applies different filters to a wide database of local camps.

The ACA recommended that parents consider different categories of camps, including but not limited to: location, accommodations, disability and special needs, waterfront opportunities, age, gender and duration.

Camps can also vary by interests, from basket weaving to ornithology.

“There’s a lot to choose from in our community, and my biggest encouragement would be to think about what your child likes doing-- how they would be happiest spending their summer-- and find an option that works for that,” Mary Roth, operations manager at Madison School and Community Recreation, said.

Jarosky agreed. She advised that if kids show a strong interest in a particular topic, parents should go on the waiting list.

Considering budget, the ACA said day camp tuition averages range from $199 per week to more than $800 per week. MSCR camps are about $150 to $200 per week.

“As a community provider and a public entity, one of our goals really is to provide a program that’s accessible to anyone who wants to participate in the community,” Roth said.

Scholarships are available at many camps, but they are also time-sensitive. At MSCR, applications must be submitted at registration.

Mother to a second-grader, Toriana Pettaway said she wants other parents to give summer camps a try.

“Having your kids participate in summer activities increase (their) ability to stay connected and improve (their) academic standing,” Pettaway said.

She added, “As a single parent, which I am, and having a kid of color, I want to make sure that my child has every opportunity to succeed in school.”

Registration dates for a few Madison-area camps:

Madison Children’s Museum:
February 5 – Members only
February 12 – General public

Camp Shalom:
March 4, 2020 -- Returning campers, siblings of returning or former campers, and children of camp alumni
March 5, 2020 -- All campers
March 23, 2020 -- Scholarship application deadline

Madison School and Community Recreation (MSCR): March 16, 2020