Too Old for Summer Camp???

Updated on March 28, 2011
K.J. asks from Glendale, CA
10 answers

My 12 year old son has attended the same summer camp 2 years in a row. It was affordable and my kids came home dirty, tired and happy! We usually do one week of camp so I can run errands, shopping and have some 'me time' and then one week we do fun things together (bowling, swimming, movies etc) Although my daughter is thrilled to go back this summer, my son says he's too mature for camp, would be bored and doesn't want to go. My concern if he doesn't go is that he'll be so bored at home that he'll want to be playing video games or watching TV all day. I don't have a problem with him doing these things but it can be very addicting and I'm not wanting to spend my entire summer arguing with him over this issue nor do I want to drag a grumpy pre-teen to the grocery store and other errands on a daily basis. My daughter will be at camp 25 hours a week every other week and I'll rely on this time to get things done around the house etc. So I'm looking for suggestions from other creative moms as to some ideas to keep my son happy, healthy and entertained this summer.

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answers from Charlotte on


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answers from Minneapolis on

I agree with the other posters that 12 is not too old for camp, but maybe he needs a change. Either an overnight camp, or a differently focused camp, or, if he's old enough, working as a camp volunteer.

I'd ask him to tell you more about why he thinks he's "too mature" and he'll be "bored". Kids can be influenced by what a classmate happened to say about camp more than how they really feel about camp.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Biloxi on

At about 13 years old my son decided he was too old for Boys & Girls Clubs every summer, but I didn't want him vegetating in the house all summer in front of video games either, especially since I worked full time.

So, we made a deal - he would go to club 3 days a week and could stay home two days - but, he had to pick up more of the household chores. He did laundry, swept, mopped, and occasionally threw a Bertoli meal on the stove and fixed dinner.

Talk to your son, let him know that if he skips camp this summer, since he is "too old for it" then he is old enough to help you around the house. And then give him a list of chores. Also, I require my son to read during the summer - so we make weekly trips to the library and he goes through about one book per week. Schedule your son time to play outside, with friends, and time to veg in front of the video games.

You can provide him a structured summer and still allow for the changes in his wants. I think they all get to the point where they believe they are too old for camp and see camp as a baby sitting vehicle. It is a natural progression.

It may turn out to be an extra special summer for you both - having time to spend together.

Good Luck and God Bless

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

It all depends on the type of camp. Does he have any hobbies or interests? Does he play any sports? There are tons of different camps out there. I am sure you can find one to suit his interests.

Maybe you can send him to overnight camp. That is a completely different experience. I went to music camp up until the summer before my senior year of highschool. He is definetely not too old for camp.

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answers from Minneapolis on

Maybe it's time to look for a new 'camp' experience for him? Are there other options in the area? If not, perhaps an overnight camp might give him the adventure he's looking for? My dd will be 13 next summer and we are already looking at Outward Bound and ActionQuest options for her next summer. This summer she is traveling for 5 days with her state 4H delegation to SpaceCamp. (very reasonable, costing us only $375 for the entire trip). We have to budget for these because they can be expensive, but the way I look it at it i'd rather save on $8 movies here and there and skip the extra shoes/clothes i don't really 'need' to provide my children with an opportunity that will possibly make a difference in their life.

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answers from Colorado Springs on

Maybe he needs a different camp. Sometimes when a child is approaching the age limit, he/she is looking ahead and wants something new (and with older kids, so it seems a little more grown up). Is there another camp option? I have no idea what's in your area, but perhaps you can connect with other moms who can help you find out.

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answers from New York on

My girls will be 14 and 16 this summer. They can't wait to go. My 16yo is going as a volunteer.

Tell him he has a choice, it's camp or stay home and help mom run errands and do chores.

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answers from San Francisco on

Show your son the PROs and CONs of summer camp vs staying home with YOU.

Have him make his list and you make YOUR list. He's old enough to stay alone for a few hours, but not old enough to run around on his own or have kids his age over to the house without adult supervision.

Once he weighs all the pros and cons out, he just may opt for camp.


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answers from Washington DC on

Find a totally new kind of "camp." Have you looked into summer sessions at local colleges and universities, designed just for kids? I don't mean "going to college," I mean summer camps in robotics, computer programming, making videos, writing, cartooning, sports, loads of things. Local community colleges and universities do a lot of this. Search in your area online. Museums sometimes have summer camps on specific subjects with very hands-on activities. Your town may have summer programs teaching kids his age to be assistant lifeguards or whatever. Think outside the box that says "summer camp" has to mean traditional camp activities.

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answers from Detroit on

Why not ask him to try the camp for the first week and see if it boring like he thinks? maybe what he did last year is what he thinks would be boring, and he might like what is planned/offered for his age group. young people often say this about things, and i think it is not good to quickly give in to this, because, as you said, they do not often fill their time well!

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