In the doldrums of mid-February, summer may be the stuff of daydreams. But for those looking to fill their kids’ schedules during the two-month break from school, now’s the time to be thinking all things camp as Wilfrid Laurier University presents a one-stop shopping event.
Its Summer Camp Fair is set for February 21 at the Waterloo campus.
WLU began offering the fair to parents and kids five years ago when the previous fair held by the City of Waterloo was discontinued. The university offers its own summer programs and camps for kids and decided it was worthwhile to keep going with the annual information session on campus.
“What we are trying to do is give everyone one central spot for parents and families to talk to people in person,” said WLU marketing coordinator Rebecca Kieswetter.
Though most camps do their own advertising and there is ample information online, Kieswetter said the personal approach is useful for parents and kids when searching out a suitable summer activity. The fair offers one-stop shopping for every type of educational and athletic fun. It also offers a chance for parents to meet with and speak to the people who will be working with their children.
“Websites are great and there are ads in the leisure guide, but it’s really nice to talk to someone firsthand, especially if your child is new to the camp scene. It’s kind of nice to connect with the people that are going to be overseeing your children or supervising them or working with them directly,” she said.
More than 40 summer programs and camps will be represented on the day, with vendors offering visitors a look at colourful displays and many organizations and camps putting on interactive demonstrations and presentations for parents and kids.
Participants will include the likes of the Mad Science camp, which always puts on a demonstration for kids, while the Humane Society brings along their education dog. For the critter-lovers out there, Bug Quest offered through the Cambridge Butterfly conservatory will have some creepy crawlers on hand.
Variety and visuals are another reason why parents should consider going to the fair. Kieswetter explained that kids might have a program in mind but may be drawn to something completely different.
“The kids, they’ve got a chance to maybe muck around, a little bit hands-on. If they are going off for a week to participate in the program, they get a feel for what they might be in for. Mom and dad might think little Joey or Sally want to do a sports camp and the kids get to the camp fair and the kids are really interested in some of the art programs or the bug camp.”
It’s an opportunity for parents to see what their kids are actually interested in and maybe even expand some horizons along the way, she said.
Along with many returning programs, that offer everything from outdoor activities and art, to bugs and slime, the WLU’s fair has snagged a few newcomers. This year the fair will include two overnight camps and some new sports and arts camps.
For the young athletes out there, joining the event for the first time are The Zone Training camp, Five Rings Tae Kwon Do Martial Arts and The Kitchener Soccer Club, while the kids who dream of the skies can check out Aviation Youth Camp held by the Waterloo Wellington Flight Centre. Centre Éducatif Village d’Élisabeth is the new French program and those aspiring towards the dramatic might find a temporary home with the Star Performance Academy drama program. There is also a program offered by the Grand River Conservation Authority and an Art Innovators Summer Camp.
But with so many options, how can anyone choose just one? Keiswetter said parents are strongly encouraged to check out the programs online first by visiting the university’s fair web page (www.wlu.ca/campfair) and narrowing down some choices.
“It’s kind of like kids going to camp, you have to take that first step and kind of be brave and get in there. The vendors are really great too. This is part of their marketing, they’re prepared to work with parents and kids, and guide them in the whole information gathering process,” she explained.
Another issue to consider is the cost. With kids off for the summer, providing care for them is a big job and camps are not always cheap.
“Cost is such a huge factor. Come the summertime you’ve got to find essentially full-time care for them. The finances behind sending kids to camp are pretty huge too.”
On that same note, there is another attraction for families looking to possibly save some cash this summer as the University’s three camps each offer free admission for one child.
“That kind of eases some financial burden and makes it kind of fun too,” Keiswetter added.
At the event WLU will be raffling off three free camp spots for The Golden Hawks sports program, the BrainWorx science camp and LEAP, an academic enrichment program.
The event will take place on February 21 in the Science Building courtyard at Laurier’s Waterloo campus from 5-8 p.m. Admission is free.