As a kid growing up here in Austin Texas, I still have great memories of "going to camp". I went to a camp outside of Austin called the "Running R" day camp. It was a great learning experience for me since we did activities I would have never had the opportunity to do otherwise. My two boys really get excited when summer lets out and they head off to camp.
I have made a list of my "Top 10 essentials" for those parents who may not know what to bring.
Suntan Lotion: Not only are sunburns painful, but too much exposure to sunlight can increase the risk of skin cancer. A sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher can make spending summer days outside a safer proposition.
Bug Spray: Camps can be havens for mosquitoes, bees, and other pests. Bug spray can make a big difference, but you'd be surprised how easy it is to forget that.
Bathing Suit: Here's another item that ought to be a no-brainer, but it can be left out in the shuffle of packing. Swimming and water activities are a big part of many summer camp experiences. Also pack Aquasox or flip-flops for kids, to protect their feet in and around the waterhole.
Disposable Camera: You wouldn't want to risk sending your child to camp with an expensive and fragile digital camera. A cheap disposable is a great way to ensure that summer camp memories can last a lifetime.
Flashlight: While many camps provide flashlights for nighttime activities, it's a good idea for your child to take along his own flashlight, along with fresh batteries. You never know when one might come in handy.
Toothbrush: You can't guarantee that your child will remember to brush at camp, but don't let it be for lack of trying on your part. Consider buying an electric toothbrush -- the novelty may appeal to your child.
Sun Hat: During sports and other outdoor activities, wearing a hat is a great way to keep the glare out of young eyes. Sun hats can also be stylish, and useful for simply lounging around.
Water Bottle: A durable water bottle can be crucial for hikes and other long daytime activities. Keeping kids hydrated during the hot summer months is important for their overall health.
Raincoat or Poncho: The ideal camp session would feature only sunny days, but Mother Nature has a funny sense of humor sometimes. Wet weather gear is a must.
Personal Notebook or Journal: Encourage your child to keep a journal of her camp experiences. She may not realize it now, but later in life those memories will be meaningful.
Here is my list of kids camps broken down by the types of activities they offer:
Adventure / Sports
Aquatic Sciences Adventure Camp Ages 9-15
Austin Nature & Science Center Ages 3-17
Austin Rock Gym Ages 6 & up
Brandy Perryman Basketball Camp Ages 7-17
Camp Arrowhead Ages 6-17 Girls
Camp Balcones Springs Ages 7-17
Camp Buckner Ages 4-15
Camp Champions Ages 7-17
Camp Coyote Ages 7-17
Camp Doublecreek Ages 4-14
Camp La Junta Ages 6-14 Boys
Camp Olympia Ages 7-16
Camp Peniel Ages 9-18
Camp Rio Vista Ages 6-16 Boys
Camp Sierra Vista Ages 6-16 Girls
Camp Stewart Ages 6-16 Boys
Chaparral Ice Summer Camp Ages 5-14
Concordia Summer Baseball Camps Father/Son
Scubaland SCUBA Camp Ages 12-18
Sea Camp Ages 10-18
Seaworld Adventure Camp Ages 3-18
Tennis for Kids Ages 4-14
UT Rowing Camp Ages 13-18
UT Volleyball Camp Ages 10-18 Girls
UT Soccer Camp Ages 5-18
UT Soccer/Lacrosse/Ultimate Disc Ages 5-17
YMCA Camp Flaming Arrow Ages 6-16
YMCA of Greater San Antonio 6-16
YMCA Sports Camps Ages 4-15
Contact Football Camps Ages 8-18
Crowne's Nest Farm Ages 5-11
Echo Hill Ranch Ages 6-14
GSI Scuba Day Camp Ages 12 & Up
Heart o' the Hills Camp Ages 6-16 girls
Hunters Chase Farms Ages 5 & Up
Kickapoo Kamp Ages 7-17 girls
Kings Bridge Farm Ages 7-14
Love to Swim Ages 3 to Adult
Middle School Summer Flag Football Ages 5th-9th Grades
Outback Adventure Camp Ages 10-16
Outdoor Texas Camp Ages 9-17
Rocky River Ranch Ages 7-14 Girls
Round Rock Express Baseball Camp Ages 6-14
Rowing Dock K-12th Grade
San Antonio Zoo Adventures K-8th Grades
I have one diabetic stepson however, and he is still traumatized by a very bad experience we had in 2008 with "Camp Doublecreek Farms". I would NOT recommend them to anyone. When we signed up for him to go there, they said being a diabetic wasn't a problem. However, after one month of him being there, they called my wife and said we would have to pick him up from there within 2 hours. He was being "kicked out of camp" because they didn't have the time to devote to checking his blood sugar, which takes about 30 seconds. I asked to speak to the owner, who was hiding in her office, because I was needless to say "livid" about it. She would not come out to speak with either my son, nor' I. I wanted her to tell my stepson herself why he couldn't come back. But she didn't have it in her. Meanwhile, the school nurse was sitting there eating a bag of Oreos, as she didn't have any time. She sent out some counselor who explained this to him. Well, have you ever tried finding a camp in the summer 30 days after it starts? It is impossible! However, we told the story to the Twin Lakes YMCA in Cedar Park, and they graciously and thankfully asked us to join them. I will say it was a wonderful jester, and one which we accepted. I have nothing but kind and grateful things to say about them! So, if you are willing to risk discrimination, go on over to Camp Doublecreek. Rather than sue them, I have chosen to inform you and let you decide. And I told them that as well. Man I love the power of the internet!