Ask the Sheppard children how they spent their summer vacation and you’ll get an earful. Last summer, twins Eli and Eva, 12, and Luke, 8, attended a program at the Delaware Theatre Company in Wilmington, where they helped create plays and polish their performing skills.
“My kids cannot wait to go back,” says mom Ina Sheppard. “This summer, Eli wants to participate in all three sessions.” Eva also participated in a summer intensive at her ballet school, and all three kids attended day camp at Wilmington Montessori.
The Sheppards are in good company. Summer camp programs are on the rise. The Delaware Nature Society, for instance, boosted its offerings from about 75 in 2007 to more than 120 this year. “There’s an increased demand, and we wanted to take advantage of that,” says Joe Sebastiani, team leader of seasonal programs.
Even the family vacation is an occasion for camp. Clear Space Theatre Company in Rehoboth Beach experienced a 33 percent increase in camp attendance after moving just blocks from the beach. “Parents used the intensive as a place to send their children while they spent a day on the beach,” says co-founder Ken Skrzesz. “Our lobby was full of sand at the end of the day as bathing-suited moms picked up their children.”
Camps meet the needs of today’s working parents faced with entertaining children who are off from school. But the programs also nurture a child’s interests. Many camps have a theme, be it ballet, football, science or even lessons on how to dance like a diva.
“I think they got the most out of camps with a focus,” says Sheppard. “Perhaps it just suits their personalities more or perhaps my kids have found camps that focus on activities they are passionate about.”
For a sampling of area summer programs, read on.