Whether “playing teacher”, collecting bugs, or building forts, students start to show clues of their natural interests, early in their lives. As part of their career development journey, attending career/academic camps can be a great way to develop existing interests, or explore new ones.
Camps come in all shapes and sizes, from day camp to immersive multi-week experiences. In addition to career/academic camps, there are arts camps, community service camps, wilderness camps, sports camps and special needs camps. Each of these camps offer valuable experiences that will help a young person clarify their own interests, values and future goals. These are all important parts of the career readiness process.
Exploration through camps can start at any age, but we especially encourage academic camps for middle school students, as they are often developmentally ready to actively engage in conversations to imagine their futures, are interested in self-discovery, and are typically enthusiastic about new experiences.
Career Development Benefits of Career & Academic Camps
Camps can be an important part of career exploration. In addition to meeting new friends with similar interests, students will also benefit in the following ways:
- Opportunity to self-assess - evaluating experiences against their interests and values.
- Explore new academic topics and fields of study
- Develop skills through practical (and fun!) hands-on activities
- Meet positive role models with expertise in the field of interest
- Develop a feeling of competence, self-reliance and independence
- Make new friends & meet people from different backgrounds.
- Develop social skills including teamwork, collaboration and cooperation
Things to Consider When Choosing a Summer Camp
Involving students in the process of selecting a camp is very important. Their motivation and excitement will help make it a positive experience. Talk to them about their interests, favorite school subjects, role models and dreams. Show them a variety of options. Help them understand the value of exploring something new, or developing a skill with intensive camp experiences.
There are many factors to consider when choosing a summer camp. Everything from your child’s interests, class size, leader qualifications, safety and cost. Narrowing down choices can be a challenge in itself. Networking with other parents is a great way to hear about engaging and well-run camps.
Here are a few resources to assist you:
Local Career & Academic Camps
We are fortunate in West Michigan to have many employers, educational institutions, along with non-profit and professional organizations, that offer camps ranging from wood-working to writing and forensic science to photography.
Each year, the Kent ISD Career Readiness team assembles a comprehensive list of 70+ camps to assist K-12 students and their families in identifying an opportunity of interest. While many have costs, the list does include free and low cost camps. Many offer scholarships to eliminate barriers to participation.
Please Note: Planning ahead is important, as many camps are very popular and fill up early. Check these lists as early as February/March, of each new year.