By ABBIE LARA & ALLY CHASE | Moonshine Ink

When we were kids, summer camp meant something different than it does today — especially in Truckee/Tahoe. We live in an outdoor mecca that sets the scene for major rugged exploration camps, yet there are camps such as Lego(R), STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, mathematics), and performing arts offered here. So how do you begin to figure out if your child needs to attend camp or not, and which one? Here are some considerations when you are going through the many options.

Variety

Does your child need to roam free or find a break from structure? We all need a breather from this last winter, but there’s also a particular kind of freedom that open-ended summer camps can offer. Camps that provide room for creativity and also exploration, like those at Tahoe Expedition Academy, can give your child the summer experience he or she craves. Or, if the opposite is true and your child gets to pick and choose adventures with you throughout the year, then maybe try dipping into the arts in a more focused camp like dance at InnerRhythms or theater camps with Truckee Community Theater.

Budget

Education for your child can always be looked at as an investment. The more a camp costs, the more it probably has to offer. You might be able to splurge on camps that offer lower student ratios or once-in-a-lifetime experiences that are hand-picked by your child. But camps are also a way to fill the void of school when full-time working parents are trying not to break the bank in the summer months. Check out Boys and Girls Club of North Lake Tahoe and KidZone Museum for interactive, fun, and affordable options. And don’t forget to ask if the camps your child is interested in have scholarships available.

Goals and Skills

Does your child have a specific passion for a sport? Summer is the time to find a camp for it. Our area offers some of the most diverse programs, such as Truckee Sports Camp, which runs the gamut of sports on a daily basis. Piping Rock Equestrian specializes in horse riding, and there are water sports, soccer, and other camps available through the rec centers in both Incline Village and Truckee. While you can always find baseball and basketball, Tahoe Donner offers unique programs like marksmanship. There are also camps that teach the arts, religion, gymnastics, natural science, mountain biking, and even overcoming anxiety.

Academic Camps

Not all camps are pure games and activities. Some of the more academic programs are offered through Tahoe Truckee Unified School District, and are intended to prepare students for the upcoming school year so there is less apprehension when school starts, and to gain the academic concepts needed to succeed.

Certified Child Care/Preschool Camps

Look up a local preschool or daycare, and you will most likely see they have a summer camp program. These professionals know how to treat children with respect, care for them with love, and also give them a curriculum designed for their development. They are licensed, experienced, and have schools ready for kids all year, especially summer.

Highly Recommended and for All Ages

Tahoe is home to the Truckee-Donner Recreation and Park District (TDRPD) camps and Camp Skylandia. These tried-and-true summer programs give children of different ages exposure to activities, day trips, mountain sports, and the outdoors in general.

If you are on the hunt for a summer camp, best of luck going through the many amazing options available this summer. Tahoe Kidz will soon be posting a comprehensive list of options available in North Lake Tahoe at tahoekidz.org. What camps will our amazing local businesses think of next year?

Abbie Lara is director of Conecta Preschool, an RIE and Reggio Emilia-inspired school for 2- to 5-year-olds in Truckee. Ally Chase is founder of Tahoe Kidz, an online source focusing on toddler-friendly activities and family fun around North Lake Tahoe.