Lisa Cantor watched the camp videos over and over again and couldn’t decide what camp was best for her three boys. At first, choosing the right camp for her child appeared to be an overwhelming task; but with the right guidance and information, the decision simply boiled down to getting answers to a few major questions, one of the most important being, “Should I send my child to a co-ed or single sex camp?” Lisa knew her boys loved sports, but also knew that they were not necessarily the “top athletes” in their grade. What type of camp would be best for them?
The answer was clear after careful consideration of each camp’s benefits and how those benefits related to her children’s individual personalities. Traditionally, single sex camps are known for their ability to let “girls be girls “or “boys be boys.” However, many parents fear the unfounded reputation of single sex camps being too competitive. In fact, the single sex environment allows girls and boys to feel more freedom to experiment, without many of the social pressures found in co-ed situations. What’s more, an all boys or all girls camp can provide more specialization in activities and in skill building because of their single focus.
Betsy Cahn, mother of two boys attending an all boys camp, likes the “healthy competition” her boys experience each summer. “It’s just enough to keep things interesting, but not too much to create unneeded stress.”
Similarly, advocates of all girls camps claim that concerns about clothing, make-up and body image are diminished leaving their children ripe for learning new skills or being just plain silly. Allie Rosenthal, a seven year veteran of a girls camp, appreciated exactly that. She said that, “not having to be self-conscious about anything” was a distinct advantage of an all girls camp. Dan Kagan, a director of a leading girls camp, sums it up by saying that at an all girls camp, “each girl has the opportunity to express herself through work, play and the simple freedom of being a girl in summertime.”
On the other hand, advocates of co-ed camps will attest to the benefits of camping in an environment that is more like the real world . . . one where both sexes interact daily. Karen Levine, mother of a boy and a girl, feels that co-ed is “the real world”. Her husband wouldn’t hear of sending their children to single sex camps. He feels that “brothers and sisters need the daily support and companionship of their siblings while attending camp.” What’s more, he feels that co-ed camps are, quite simply, “more fun.” In addition to exposure to new physical activities, the co-ed camp environment provides valuable social growth opportunities for young children as well as those who continue to return to camp well into their teen years.
Marc Honigfeld, director of a premier co-ed camp reiterates that, “attending a co-ed camp can be a healthy experience where young boys and girls are allowed to pace themselves as they learn how to interact with the opposite sex. By creating this natural healthy co-ed experience, we find that there is a greater likelihood of a camper returning to camp through their high school years.”
As you can see, making this decision requires weighing the pros and cons for each type of camp – for your individual family. There is no right or wrong answer. The decision should be based on your child and his or her individual needs and interests. Please contact Camp Specialists and we will guide you along with this very important decision in your search for the perfect camp.