As you may recall, earlier this week we mentioned how sports camps are gaining popularity in and around Los Angeles. Just this week we've heard from families wanting our opinion on the best football camps, hockey camps and tennis camps in the city. And even though we're about to head into the coldest time of year, three other moms emailed us about their kids' surf camp interest for the upcoming 2017 summer season.
One of the things we learned long ago through our involvement with camps is when children express interest in learning a new skill or trying a new activity, it’s best to help them pursue those interests as much as possible to the extent that you can.
In this manner, you will be helping your son or daughter learn more about themselves as a person by discovering their likes and dislikes, interests and non-interests, while simultaneously helping them increase their self confidence and esteem as they grow into happy, healthy adults.
If your son or daughter has expressed interest in learning to surf, why not sign them up for surf camp this summer?
Surfing and Summer Camp Were Made for Each Other
If you live in L.A., you probably already know we're blessed with some of the best beaches, weather, and waves in the world. After all, our local beaches are here and available for your child's enjoyment, and if you're like most L.A. parents, you'll probably be sending your child to camp this year.
Why not combine the two and sign your child up for surf camp? Surfing and summertime go hand in hand.
No Prior Surfing Experience? No Problem
What if My Child Doesn't Know How to Swim? Can They Still Go to Surf Camp?
Great question. The answer depends on what "kind" of surf camp you're looking for.
It's important to distinguish between a pure surf camp -- where surfing's the primary (if not the only) activity offered -- from other camps which may offer surfing as a smaller component to a more comprehensive summer program that might also boogie boarding, water play, sand games, and other beach-related activities in addition to surfing.
If you want a pure, dedicated surf camp program -- where surfing's the primary focus -- we highly advise learning to swim before signing up for the program. Sending your child to surf camp if they don't know how to swim could potentially be a very unsafe (and not very fun) proposition.
Now there's just one more thing to note.
Despite our personal thoughts on this subject, individual camps may have their own guilelines regarding previous swimming experience required of their campers. Check with the camp director for their particular policies before signing up for any program.
How to Choose a Surf Camp
Given the sheer number of surf camps available, it's tempting to type "Surf Camps Los Angeles" into Google, then sign up for the first one you find.
While that's not a bad way to find a surf camp, keep in mind ANYONE can make ANYTHING look good online! This means you must be absolutely certain you're not choosing some fly-by-night program that just started teaching kids to surf yesterday.
This isn't to say newer surf camps aren't qualified to deliver an outstanding camp experiences to your child. All we're saying is, it's pretty darn easy to put up a website, head down to the beach, set up a tent or canopy and call yourself a surf camp.
Fortunately, there's a number of reputable, established surf camp programs in L.A. and Malibu you can choose from. One consideration is to contact the American Camp Association for a referral to qualified surf camps in your area. Asking your friends if they can recommend a program is always a good strategy, too.
Once you find some surf camps that interest you, talk to each camp director to narrow down your choice. Eventually you'll find one or two you consider to be the best match for your child.
How Will My Child Get to Surf Camp?
This is an important question and one often overlooked by families when choosing a summer surfing program. If you don't live near the beach, or your work schedule prevents you from driving your child to camp yourself, consider a surf camp that provides transportation. Some of the surf camps providing transportation do so for free, while others charge extra for the convenience.
Other programs require you to pick-up and and drop-off your kids yourself, so you'll need to find a way to get your child to camp yourself while braving the beach traffic. One popular arrangement we've seen used at many surf camps is a carpool arrangement with other camper families. Ask the camp director to help you facilitate a carpool for your program if this idea would benefit you.
The main point to remember is you have numerous transportation options when it comes to getting your child back and forth to camp.
When Should We Sign Up for Surf Camp?
Many camps in the L.A. area, notably the more popular ones, tend to fill up quickly. Camps register children on a space-available basis, so when the last spot's gone, it's generally gone for good. The only option you may have at that point is to join the waiting list and hope for the best.
All in all, when you find a program that appeals to you, it's best to register sooner rather than later. This way you can sidestep the frustration and disappointment of finding a surf camp your child's eager to try, only to find out later they don't have room for you.
Blog posts by Cora Carter of L.A. Summer Camps.com