Thursday, March 10, 2011

Summer Camps for Gifted Kids: Are They Worth the Cost?

I'm reading: Summer Camps for Gifted Kids: Are They Worth the Cost?Tweet this!

The snow has almost melted which means it's time to register for summer camp*. Things can get tricky when it comes to geeky gifted kids and summer camps. Do you send your kid to an academic leaning program (geek camp) or let a kid be a kid at good old summer camp?

Certainly for some high achieving kids, summer is a chance to blow off steam and fit in with the regular crowd sweating in the outdoors, swimming and singing 'round the campfire.

And then there are the others. The ones who want nothing more than to build robots, explore international politics, compose a symphony, play chess and program computers. Okay, and maybe blow things up.

Speaking of which, last August I wrote: 2010 will go down as the best summer of geek camp ever. Now, these often pricey science, chess, math and arts camps don't always provide their value in content, or even in instructors, but they do typically provide a positive social setting for the child who is, say, more mathlete than athlete or who cares more about Bach than baseball.

And that's pretty much it in a nutshell. Each year, parents ask me if these camps are Worth It because, dang! they cost a bundle of money.

For example, one week of the TechID Camp costs as much as one month of our park district camp. The former involves lots of time sitting at computers learning programming languages and skills; that latter involves weekly cookouts, trips to the pool and two overnight camp outs at state parks, not to mention a variety of outdoor skills.

On some level, the money thing kills me. It's an outrage.

And yet....

As I said above, geek camps don't always have the best of everything, but they do attract like-minded, passionate, deep thinking and maybe quirky children (just like yours).

And that is priceless.

In my mind these camps are not about building academic prowess as much as they are about helping your child explore his passions. But even more so, geek camps offer a chance for your child to connect with an aged based peer group that is also an intellectual peer group-- something he might never have experienced before.

Like I said- priceless.

*Actually, we had to commit to overnight camps for the boys back in November!


Jennifer said...

My 11-year old has been begging for sleepaway camp this baby! I miss the days of the simple YMCA camp a few blocks from my house; really only fun for much younger children, but those days were nice.

Sara at Saving For Someday said...

Kim, excellent information from an experienced mom! My daughter is getting to that age of wanting to go to 'real' summer camp but not yet overnight camp. You are an excellent resource for me (and other moms of gifted kids)?Thank you! ~ Sara

Shari said...

I think they are worth the cost. It's important for gifted kids to be challenged. Too often that challenge doesn't come from their schools. Also, your point about socialization is valid. It's hard to be the smart kid. To be in a group of smart kids makes them feel normal, rather than an outlier.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, not all highly gifted kids come from families where this is even a possibility.

jen said...

I need to start signing the boys up, but don't know where to start in IL! Any suggestions? 'Cause if I'm their sole source of entertainment for three months after this move I will definitely need a padded room.

Kim Moldofsky said...

@Jennifer- I'm sending the boys away for the first time this summer and they are headed to two different camps for two different sessions. It's going to be an odd summer.

@Sara- Thanks

@Shari- Totally with you on that.

@Jen- I think the Davidson Institute has a guide. Our local high school pair with the local park district, so look into that. Also, the area's gifted schools (Science and Arts Acad. might be convenient) and other organizations like The Center for Talent Development and The Center for gifted, both of which have many scattered sites.

@anonymous- True, but that's a whole other post.

Michelle said...

I am SO with you on this one. We've been avoiding paying for the NU CTD camps so far, but I think we're going to have to break down this year. We do summer school where he did a really cool science class last year, but there are only so many classes like that. And he NEEDS the stimulation. But oh the cost. *sigh*