How to pick the perfect summer camp in Mississauga

Published March 21, 2023 at 11:53 am

Summer may still be some time away, but it’s never too early to think about keeping your kids active, engaged and healthy during the long summer months.

Fortunately for Mississauga, one of Canada’s best family sports facilities is right here in the city and is now taking registrations for their upcoming summer sports camp.

The Ontario Racquet Club (ORC), located at 884 Southdown Rd close to the Oakville border, hosts a variety of fun events and activities for people of all ages – with a focus on tennis and other racquet sports, aquatics, fitness, and more.

At their summer camps, kids aged 5 to 13 enjoy tennis or outdoor field sports, daily pool time for water sports and swimming, indoor sports in the gymnasium, fitness classes, and weekly challenges that will keep them engaged and excited for more.

The camps focus on fun, sportsmanship and competition, and kids get a pizza lunch on Fridays.

If you’ve never signed your kids up for summer camp before, the process can be a bit overwhelming. Nicole Crewe, Fitness & Family Activities Director at the Ontario Racquet Club, helps parents understand what to expect.

Why is camp important?

Nicole: Summer camp can mean a lot of things for a lot of different kids. But I think when you look at the basic fundamental point of it, camp gives kids the continuity that school gives them, where they continue their daily routine, continue to make friends and master skills, even if it’s not in a classroom setting.

As soon as kids start to master skills – like learning to swim or how to kick a soccer ball – their confidence is increased. “I can do this, I want to do more.” It’s a great forum for them to grow and learn outside of a traditional academic setting.

How do I choose a camp?

Nicole: Please involve your kid in the selection process. When it comes to summer camps, I am truly amazed at the number of camps that are available for different ages, different locations, and different styles. I mean, there’s a princess camp, there’s a make-a-movie camp, there’s even a camp to teach your child how to ride a bike!

If you’re looking at certain camps that maybe help out your schedule as a parent – better location, better for carpooling – maybe give your kid a choice of two or three so they still feel part of that choosing process. Your child will be more engaged and will have a super fun time.

What do parents always forget about sending kids to camp?

Nicole: I think parents kind of get “summer brain” like kids do sometimes. It can be what they’re packing them for their lunches – we don’t allow nuts or anything to that effect because we have friends who are allergic. We sometimes still find that kids come to camp for swimming, but weren’t sent with a towel.

Don’t forget snacks – we are often very active at camp. Your child might eat more than what they do at school, where they’d be doing a lot of sitting.

If a child has special needs, always communicate this with the lead of the camp as well as the coach. Really explain to them the dos and don’ts, and how to navigate those needs for their child – we’re all on your child’s team.

What questions should I ask before sending kids to camp?

Nicole: You know, there’s no real wrong question to ask because everyone’s coming from different circumstances and has different needs. You’ll find some parents who are very apprehensive about swimming for a little five-year-old because they might think, “Oh my god, the camp is just going to throw my kid in a pool with no life jacket.”

So just asking questions is the best thing that a parent can do if they’re unsure about what foods to bring, if they’re unsure about dietary restrictions, even if they’re unsure if their child can be in camp with a friend of theirs. Just ask, I think that’s the best.

Parents will often ask questions that pertain to the safety of their child. I think as parents, we all agree we want our kids to be safe – and once they’re safe, then they’re in a good place to start having fun.

What’s a good age to send my child to summer camp?

Nicole: Finding an exact right age for camp is tough, because you hear some parents say their child is very mature for a six-year-old – but a child can definitely clam up and get protective if you take them out of their usual routine.

I think if you go based on the school model – kids in junior kindergarten or senior kindergarten – that’s a good age to start camp. Especially if you’re looking for a full day camp. Full day for younger kids, two or three years old, I don’t think that’s going to be a good choice at all.

Is there anything parents can do to help younger kids get used to camp?

Nicole: If they have a friend that goes with them, camp is a lovely experience. You definitely want to hear from the camp coordinator and the coach that their goal is to have each child make a friend by the end of the first day, because as soon as they’ve made a friend, then they feel a part of it. They feel comfortable enough to come back.

We will sometimes see kids at even 10 years old have anxiety going into something new, but we want the kids to feel comfortable and safe. We’ll play a lot of name games, so the kids can get to know one another.

You do not need to be a member at the ORC to sign up for summer camp, however there are a ton of additional after-school and adult classes which make membership a great option for active families.

Other popular facilities at the club include their very own restaurant with a wide range of dinner options, and the ORC playcentre where young children are engaged and entertained.

The club has something for everyone, with experiences that are casual, competitive, and everything in between. Memberships are available to those who want to take full advantage of the club’s offerings.

For more info on everything happening at the Ontario Racquet Club, visit their websiteFacebook and Instagram.

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