Planning for Summer Camp: Your Search & Signup Survival Guide

Mar 11, 2021 | Camps

Planning for Summer Camp

Finding summer programs can be tough. Learn our tips and tricks to make the summer camp search and signup process easier this year.

Summer camp is one of the best ways to keep your child active and learning during the long school break. Sorting through all the options and planning the perfect summer experience for your child can be a tricky process. Blueprint4Summer St. Louis is here to help make the summer camp search and signup process simple for families, program providers, and, of course, kids. Follow these easy steps to find a camp, register your child, and prepare for summer fun!

Step 1: Assess Your Child’s Summer Needs

The first step to any search process is to define what you are looking for. Think about your child: what are their abilities, needs, interests, and passions? Are they ready for an overnight or sleepaway program, or is day camp more appropriate? Do they have summer learning objectives from school? What types of summer programs might help them catch up after a tough year or jump to the head of their class in the fall?

Don’t be shy about asking your child’s teachers, coaches, and other family members for their thoughts, as well. They may have a different and valuable perspective to share about your child’s strengths and opportunities. 

Also ask your child what they want! Kids spend a lot of time dreaming about their summer (more than their teachers would probably like). It’s very likely that they’ll have some ideas about what they’d like to learn and do during summer break. They may not get their way in the end, but they will appreciate having their opinions considered. Your child will get so much more out of summer camp if you pick something they find fun and exciting.

Step 2: Consider Your Family’s Summer Needs

Next, consider your needs as a family. What dates, days, and times work best for your summer schedule? Which community and educational organizations do you support or want to be involved with? 

One big decision families will face is whether to send their children to in-person camps or stay safe at home with virtual camp options. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the number of virtual camp options has skyrocketed. In-person camps remain popular too, as program providers have adapted to provide safe environments for learning to take place outside the home. For families choosing in-person summer camps, transportation options are another key factor to consider. Is transportation provided? If not, how far are you willing and able to travel?

Another major factor in summer planning for most families is cost. There are TONS of free and low-cost summer activities to choose from, as well as paid programs for all budget levels. Many programs offer grants, scholarships, and other financial assistance to help every child have access to fun and engaging summer activities.

Step 3: Explore Summer Camp Options

Now it’s time to start the fun part – exploring your summer camp options. This step wasn’t so much fun in the not-so-distant past. St. Louis families used to have to comb through lots of individual websites, Facebook pages, bulletin boards, and printed flyers to get just a fraction of an idea of the programs available. Now they can just use the Blueprint4Summer STL app to quickly search through thousands of sessions to find perfect-fit summer opportunities for their child.

Narrowing down the options is easy with our free summer camp search tool. Here are some pro tips for perfecting your Blueprint4Summer camp search.

Search by Location

Start by entering your zip code and preferred distance to instantly narrow your search to only show nearby programs. Our users have found that this is the easiest way to start zooming in on their best options.

Search by Age

Another fast and easy way to narrow your summer camp search results is to search by age. Choose from our pre-set age groups or enter your own age range to find programs appropriate for your child.

Search by Keyword

Looking for something specific? Try searching by keyword to quickly check for matching results. This is a great way to search for niche topics or specific organizations.

Search by Category

Select categories that match your child’s goals and interests.

Search by Attributes

Does your child have special needs or require before or after care? Are you looking for activities for gifted students or summer programs that offer scholarships? Use these checkboxes to show only results that fit your needs.

Search by Time & Date

The summer calendar fills up fast for many families. Searching by date and time can help you easily find activities to fill in the gaps in your child’s busy summer schedule.

Search by Cost

Enter your budget range to narrow the results. Use this search tool carefully – you might miss out on some big-ticket programs that offer scholarships! We recommend searching once with your budget range set and once with the “Scholarships Available” attribute selected to find some really special summer opportunities for your child. You never know what you might find!

Step 4: Plan the Perfect Summer Calendar with My Blueprint

Once you have found one or more sessions that sound perfect for your child, the next step is to plan your summer camp calendar. If you have more than one child or lots of activities to keep track of, this step is very important. It will help you stay organized, avoid scheduling conflicts, keep your kids’ schedules balanced and fair, and get prepared for upcoming activities.

Blueprint4Summer has made this part of the process very easy for you. You’ll need to create a free account so we can save a list of your favorite programs or add them to your My Blueprint calendar. Just click “Create Your Free Account” here or at the top right of the search app and follow the simple signup process. This tutorial page will take you through the process if you need help.

Once you’re signed up and logged in, you can mark and save your favorite sessions or click “Add to Blueprint” to create and manage a calendar of your planned sessions. You can create multiple Blueprints, view them in combination, print them, share them with friends and family, and more. See the Tutorial page for more tips on how to use Blueprint4Summer to plan the best summer ever for your child.

Step 5: Sign Up for Summer FUN!

Blueprint4Summer is a tool for planning and accessing summer programs. Adding sessions to your Blueprint or marking them as favorites does not sign you up for the sessions. To get signed up you will need to visit the program’s website, register for the activity, apply for scholarships, or pay any applicable fees to the program provider. Clicking the “View Website” button from Blueprint4Summer’s session listings should take you to the right place to get started.

There you have it – your summer camp search and signup survival guide for 2021. Did you find these tips helpful? Want to learn more about Blueprint4Summer and summer programs in your area? Follow Blueprint4Summer STL on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for more tips, activity highlights, and news about St. Louis summer programs for kids.

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