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There is nothing like Spring Break to remind you that summer is around the corner…. And that you had better find something for your children to do for those long 10 weeks.

My 3 boys had 11 days off of school for Spring Break, and they were great for the first four days.  Plus, the weather was beautiful (My neighbor even heated her pool!),  so we were able to spend a lot of time outside.  Spring Break always sounds like a good idea, but in the back of my mind I knew what was coming, and all I kept thinking about was Summer Break.

We'll keep your kids busy over the summer!

By Day 5, my 2 older boys woke me up at 6:30 am to ask if they could play Wii.  (Mind you, these are the same boys I have to drag out of bed at 7:15 on school days to get ready on time!)  We have a strict “Wii on Weekends Only” policy during the regular school week, but these super observant (only when they want to be) boys seem to know that I will bend the rules for these incredibly long vacation days.

As I argue with them with one eye open and mostly asleep, we negotiate Wii after breakfast; however, I find myself in the kitchen just 10 minutes later, making bowls of cereal that are only half eaten so they can make their 7:00am “Game Time” with Mario and Luigi on the virtual baseball field.

So, I begin to ask the question again……What are we going to do this summer?  Having lived in Henderson now for 7 years, I have found that the options for summer entertainment is limited, (especially for active, not-yet-sport specific boys.)  There are a few pre-school camp programs, (Shout out to Camp Midbar Kodesh!) which were great for my pre-schooler who did not yet swim and took a long afternoon nap.   Those days are long gone!  I find myself in a panic thinking of  something for the boys to do during  the 7 hours they are used to being at school, happily occupied with academics, arts, sports, friends, and trustworthy supervision that is not me.    We have tried summer school programs, (He said it was boring. Plus they were always themed – which meant if my son didn’t like dinosaurs-he didn’t want to go that week.)  Gymnastics Camp (Even though he doesn’t like gymnastics, I convinced him his friends would be there so we tried it, only once – with a promise never to return.), Country Club Camps (Also not a bad option, however by the middle of July my son nearly melted on the tennis court at 10:00 am only to be followed up with a “cool” round of golf.  Although the swimming twice a day was nice,  cramming all ages of campers into an aerobics room to watch a Disney video does not a day camp make.

So here is my advice for parents who are looking for quality summer programs for their children.  Ask yourself the following questions and rank them in the order that is most important to your family.

  • What are your child’s interests and do you want them to experience this summer? Are you looking for something new or to continue with a loved extracurricular activity?

(Specialty Camps vs. General Camp Programs)

  • Do you want a flexible program with drop-in days or are you hoping for a traditional “camp” experience?
  • Who will be supervising your children? (Will it be Teachers, Coaches, College Students, or Teenagers?)
  • Will they be mostly indoors or out?  What are the facilities like?
  • Do you want your child to swim or not? What about swim lessons?
  • How about field trips?
  • Are you looking for an academic component or just some summer fun?
  • Do you want the siblings to be together or separated?
  • Do you want them to spend time with old friends or make new friends or both?
  • Do you need extended hours? Or maybe just a half day option?

If you are anything like me…..you want a little bit of everything!   And, if you do your research, you really can have it all.    Believe it or not, there are many programs for all different kinds of children and families once you start looking.  The truth is…you need to find the right fit for you and your child.  It might be a new “traditional” summer camp for a few weeks, or it might be just a handful of days at Gymnastics camp with some old friends.   UNLV and Henderson International School have specialty sports camps offered by the week and the Country Club camps are always a good bet for an outdoor sports enthusiast that can swim.

The Tutoring Club has 4 locations throughout the Valley.

And of course, you can always spread your money around and try a few weeks here and there.  If they love Hip Hop, then the Dance Zone might be a great place to start, sprinkle in some swim lessons at WaterWings, a class here or there at the Henderson Multi-Gen Center, and end your summer at the Tutoring Club to brush up on those academic skills.  Your kids will tell you what they liked best and what they want to do again.  You will form an opinion the minute you drop your child off in the morning and again when they get into your car at the end of a camp day (hopefully happily exhausted).

And by the end of the summer, if you have a dollar or two left over after you have paid for all these extra activities, spend some time as a family…….on a trip to San Diego, a weekend in Utah, or under a cabana at Green Valley Ranch (locals get a great discount during the week!).   Really anywhere you can all be together to make a fun summer memory.  Because if you ask your children, that is where they would truly choose to be any day of the summer.

This post was submitted by Lisa Bienstock.

Lisa with her youngest son

Lisa Bienstock is the Director of Summer Programs at the Henderson International School, and the Executive Director of Summit Ridge Day Camp.As a credentialed teacher in both Nevada and California, she has over 20 years of experience in teaching as well as over seeing, facilitating and owning summer day camps.  This year, she joins the Summit Ridge Day Camp at the Henderson International School.

To find out more about the Summit Ridge Day Camp at the Henderson International School, check out their page here.

You can also like their FaceBook page.