Are Virtual Summer Camps Worth It?: Pros & Cons of an Online Summer

Mar 31, 2021

With Spring in the air, if you’re anything like us, your mind is already turning to the fun and sun of the summer!

But with the year of uncertainty we’ve been experiencing, the summer is likely to be a little different than most. And for parents, that means the options for their children will also be a bit different this year.

One of the most obvious changes for parents is that many summer camps are changing their on-sire programs to include virtual summer camps. But can your children really enjoy virtual summer camp? This week we’re going to take a deeper look.

A lot of the value of virtual summer camps depends on your children. Lots of kids will benefit from the structure, programming, and peer interaction, even if it has to be facilitated through a limited virtual format. On the other hand, some kids, and a lot of parents, hate the extra screen time that comes with these sorts of programs.

Today’s Summer Camp Problem

With more than a year of the pandemic under our belts, we’ve seen schools close, weddings postponed, and tons of jobs lost. It’s been a rough year, to put it mildly. And now, as we approach our second summer, even with vaccinations underway parents are left wondering what to do with the open months ahead.

Some places, especially in the US, have simply opened their summer camps ad normal. Others have outlined specific guidelines, such as taking temperatures, thorough handwashing, planning most activities outside, and limiting the number of campers. Some parents are comfortable with these measures; others are not.

To add to this dilemma, many parents rely on a full-time summer camp in order to work. Even with virtual camps, some may need to reduce their work hours or hire extra help to supervise their child with online activities.

What Virtual Camps Will Look Like

One of the benefits of virtual summer camp is that most existing camps that are migrating to online will likely be offering reduced costs compared to their usual in-person tuition. That said, there are still many that will charge their full rate – something that is sure to drive away anyone that is already unsure about the format.

In addition to the reduced cost will likely come reduced hours. Expect the camp to be cut down to one to three hours per day, depending on your child’s age and the focus of the camp. Camps designed for older children will likely have longer sessions.

The good news is there’s going to be no shortage of virtual summer camps to choose from! There’s literally something for everyone! We’re even offering a range of virtual music camps!

The Benefits of Online Summer Camp

Deciding to sign your child up for a virtual summer camp can be a tough decision. Let’s dive into the key benefits.

Structure

If you have a child that needs constant stimulation, gets bored easily, and thrives in social situations, then virtual summer camps may be a great option.

Another benefit to this structure is that it can give parents a needed break. Even with small children who require constant supervision. Allowing someone else to guide the creativity and fun can give you the break you need to focus on something else for a short time.

New Skills

As with more traditional, in-person summer camps, signing your child up for an engaging, challenging, and innovative summer camps will help them gain new skills, while expanding on ones they’ve already got.

Let’s say your child wants to learn to play an instrument, or to speak another language. Maybe they’re bugging you to learn a tech-based skill, like coding. All of these subjects, and countless more, are available through online summer camps.

Yes, there are always free tutorials on YouTube, but nothing compares to the daily, individualized feedback your child will get through a summer camp. Participating with the group, even through a computer, increases their level of commitment and accountability, similarly to when adults pay for inline fitness classes.

Connections

If you have a little one that loves interacting and connecting with new people, then an online camp may be perfect. As with any camp, they get to be exposed to new people they might not otherwise meet in school. What’s more, with an online camp, those people can be from anywhere. Remember having a pen pal? Now you kids can have the virtual equivalent!

The Disadvantages of Online Summer Camp

While there are many positives associated with virtual summer camps, there’s no denying that the online camp experience is a shadow of the traditional camp experience. Here are a few reasons you may decide to skip it this year.

Extra Screen Time

One aspect of online summer camps many parents are wary of is the extra screen time.

Let’s say your child has a three-hour camp session in the morning, and then wants to watch a movie in the afternoon. That’s potentially more than five hours of screen time. Many parents just can’t accept that much time.

Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that many social scientists say the quality of screen time is also important. Although your child may be sitting still and not being engaged when they watch that movie in the afternoon, the morning camp session is far from the same thing. In fact, many experts point out that, when it comes to screen time, it’s more important to be concerned with quality than quantity. In the case of summer camp screen time, kids are staying connected, building skills, and staying social – all positive things that may outweigh the extra screen time.

Of course, both kids and adults can feel tired after extended periods of time in front of a screen. Even if your child’s camp involves plenty of activity, it can still be difficult for them to stare at a screen for hours on end.

Cost

One of the benefits of virtual summer camps is that there are plenty that offer free programs, if only you put the time into search for them. However, the vast majority of camps are still trying to cover their costs – understandable when you consider that the summer camp industry generally generates around $18 billion every year.

On the other hand, countless families have experienced a drop in their income, which can make paying a premium for a camp difficult.

If you can find a camp that helps to keep your child occupied for several hours, letting you squeeze in some time of your own, then paying for online camps may be worth it. But if your child requires a lot of supervision it may not be worth the price – unless it’s a low-cost option and can provide stimulating activities daily.

Are you looking to get your child signed up for a virtual music summer camp this year? Check out our virtual and in-person camps. Sign up while there’s still room!