A day camp is a type of recreational program for children. Despite its name, a day camp needn't be a camp at all; it is simply a program that provides a place for kids to go and activities for them to do, usually during summertime when they are out of school. For example, a day camp may operate inside a youth recreational facility, providing such activities as sports, arts and crafts, and swimming. Day camps are run within churches, at parks, or in just about any place that has available space. There are some day camps that are on campgrounds, however, allowing children to enjoy outdoorsy fun as well as a full range of other activities.
During the typical school year, children are occupied with learning in school facilities. When summer comes around, they are often left with hours of free time every day. To fill this free time, day camps plan widely varied activities, some educational and some just fun; physical pursuits, such as swimming, running, and outdoor games, are usually included as well. These programs are designed to keep children busy, entertained, and out of the trouble that can arise when they have nothing to do for long periods of time.
Usually, camps are operated during normal business hours, making them helpful for parents who work outside the home. For example, a day camp may run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., giving children something to do while their parents are busy working. Some camps even offer extended hours to help parents who must get to work early and leave work late. However, there is much variation in the hours day camps operate. Most operate Monday through Friday.
While day camps provide child care for parents who work during the summer, families that have a stay-at-home parent also use them. Generally, such families use them because they provide social opportunities, in addition to recreational or educational options, that children may miss when school is out. Day camp programs can help to minimize the loneliness and boredom some children feel during the summer.
Though most day camps cater to school-age children, there are some that focus on the preschool set; however, they are less common. A day camp that takes preschool-age children may have a shorter camp day than others. This is often due to the fact that preschool-age children may be less comfortable away from home for an extended amount of time. Likewise, preschool-age children often require more attention than school-age campers do.