Choosing a camp or after school program for your child

I had the honour of hosting a child’s birthday yoga class today and realized yoga birthday parties are such a great idea! As I expand on my offerings for children, I realize how many different options there are out there. Obviously I believe in the programs I run but understand yoga isn’t for everyone. I want to keep your kids safe regardless and so am hoping these tips in choosing the right camp or before/after school program for your children are useful. These views are my own and not intended to be an exhaustive list of considerations.

One of the first things we look at when putting a child in camp or programs is often cost. There’s that old saying… “you get what you pay for” and so I’d like to provide a few insider tips on what to look for in children’s programming beyond cost.

Reality check: anyone in BC can run a kids camp or after school program. Literally anyone.

The most alarming part of opening children’s programming is that nobody asked for a copy of a criminal record check. Yikes… I know. The City of Port Moody business license department didn’t ask, my insurance company didn’t ask, despite me being insured to provide yoga and counselling to kids, and there is no such “children’s programming” body overseeing the programs I run since I am not a licensed day care. Since I am a Registered Social Worker, part of maintaining my license to practice includes staying crime free. I also expect this of any person working in my programs or interacting with my kids. If you’re signing your kids up for programs, inquire what training/licenses the facilitators hold and if not registered with a professional body requiring a criminal record check, ask if the organization completes these.

Next up… privacy and confidentiality. I get a little concerned when I see programs using photos of children enrolled in the programs for marketing. If you want to post photos of your child before or after a fun yoga class on your social media, by all means, please do (and tag my business!) but I just don’t feel comfortable using identifying photos of your children for my marketing. If you’re comfortable with this, then not a concern. But if this is a concern for you, have a look at their photo consent forms as well as their social media and marketing materials.

Intention. What is your intention in enrolling your child in this specific activity or camp, and what is the intention behind the program offerings? If it is fun, perfect, so many great ways to have fun! But if you’re looking for social/emotional learning, physical engagement, body awareness, body autonomy, or a program designed to build resilience or social skills, you’re going to have to look a bit deeper at the curriculum offered to see if the intention of the program aligns with the intention of you enrolling your child.

Inclusivity is such an important part of any program. My hope is that all children’s programming is equipped to invite children with special needs to be integrated, both for children with special needs, but also for other children to be able to build empathy and social skills with those who are different than them. Have a look at the bullying and inclusion policy for the program you’re looking at. If they don’t have one, inquire about this.

Covid safety protocols. The British Columbia Public Health Order on extracurricular activities for youth is quite vague. Too vague in my opinion.

So perhaps the British Columbia guidelines for schools are more detailed…

Yeah… still not sufficient in my opinion. I opt to follow the adult guidelines for low impact fitness when running kids programs. Excessive? Possibly. But your child’s safety and the safety of the community are far more important to me than anything. With the rising number of cases, I want to ensure that I am able to provide an outlet for children with the highest safety standards.

So what about online camps as a safe option? Feel free to read my previous blog on screentime with kids for my opinions on online camps. Kids need connection and learn best through play and interaction.

I put so much love and intention into every kids summer camp, PD day camp, workshop, birthday party, and mental health programs and until actually running these programs, had no idea about the requirements (or lack of) Wherever you choose to send your child for extracurricular activities and learning, I’m hoping these guidelines and tips provide you with some things to consider. Again, these views are strictly my own. This is just a blog afterall!

If you are interested in enrolling your child in one of our PD day camps, summer day camps, or before/afterschool programming, use promo code YOUNGRAVENS for 15% (promo code subject to end without notice)

I primarily provide PD day camps, summer camps and after school programs in SD43 (school district 43) but have worked in partnerships with Burnaby Schools, Maple Ridge and Surrey youth programs, and Vancouver kids.

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