Where the kids are all right
Spring camps may be expensive but, this year,
they’re bursting at the seams
By Isaac Lamoureux
EVEN CONSIDERING the many camps offered in Edmonton, it may still be a challenge for parents to find something to do with their children for spring break this year.
Spring-break camps emerged in the latter part of 20th century as a response to the fact that more and more mothers were entering the workforce and fewer extended families were living nearby. Parents needed safe and affordable options for their children during school breaks. Typically, the first spring-break camps were organized by community centres and non-profit organizations. Today, a multitude of different organizations host them.
While parents may dream of sending their children abroad for spring break, even camps in the city are out of many people’s price range. Chelsea Grant, a kindergarten teacher at Belmont Public School in Clairview and mother of five, has sent her children to camps at both the YMCA and City of Edmonton. While she says she values spring break camps, she also wonders whether we put too much emphasis on keeping kids active all the time.
“It’s good for kids to rest over spring break –especially as they get towards the adolescent age.”
Knowing how to keep your child occupied and safe throughout spring break is not always clear, she adds. Daycare is usually only offered on a long-term basis and finding short-term accommodations over spring break can be challenging. Grant says other parents often ask her what to do with their kids over the week off.
“I don’t see families choosing spring break camps as recreation or for fun. They’re for childcare,.”
Despite often not knowing what to do with her own kids, the kindergarten teacher says there are amazing spring break camps in the city. One example she gives is John Janzen Nature Centre, which offers outdoor experiences for kids.
“In a perfect world, I would like to have more outside-focused spring break camps offered in all areas of the city, not just the South and West,” she says. “Any of those camps during any kind of rush-hour traffic – which I think is when most parents are taking their kids there – could easily be over an hour each way.”
But are camps that don’t incorporate nature appealing to parents as well?
Grant says that all the camps she looked at were between $250-$500 for the week, “which is not really affordable for a lot of people.”
For the first time, this year, the Alberta Aviation Museum is offering a camp for children ages six to 11. It costs $300 for the five days. Nicholas Mather, the museum’s marketing and advancement co-ordinator says there was “a strong desire for spring break camps from previous participants of the museum’s PD-day camps.”
Unfortunately, it is already sold out.
He adds that, at other camps, they’ve seen participants come from across Edmonton and even drive in from out of town to attend. During flight school, campers get to experience the best of activities from training school, STEM Lab, and crash-scene-investigation day camps with fun new activities designed to make history take flight. Activities include interactive scavenger hunts, flight-simulator practice, designing gliders & parachutes, and more. The museum also offers funding for parents with “cost as a barrier.”
The 25 spots to the museum’s spring break camp sold in February when “parents started realizing the week without childcare was coming.”
The TELUS World of Science is offering four spring break camps for students from Grades 1 to 7. The camps cost $300 with an option for lunch at $11 a day, or $50 for the five days. Parents can pay slightly more for an extra hour and 15 minutes; they can either drop their kids off early or pick them later. All four camps are sold out.
The Winspear Centre is hosting a violin & ukelele spring break camp that is open to ages six to 12. The camps cost $390 for the five days and the instruments are provided. Both camps are sold out and the Winspear’s musical creativity co-ordinator, Stephanie Jolly says “there is a long waitlist this year.” Participants learn an instrument but also try art-making, singing and dancing. They also explore the Winspear and meet some musicians.
The Grindstone Theatre is hosting three spring break camps for ages eight to 12, 12 to 15, and 13 to 17. The camps cost $300, $400, and $600, respectively. Parents who registered before Feb. 22 were able to save $50 on each camp. Unlike the aforementioned camps, these seem to still have room for people to sign up.
For parents who have waited until the last minute, options will be limited. Aside from the Grindstone Theatre and going out of town, parents may have to resort to the YMCA or City of Edmonton spring break camps.
The YMCA offers a spring break camp between $200-$250 with a 10 per cent discount offered to members. The City of Edmonton offers a variety of different options.
If parents wait too long, they may be left with no choice but to bring their children to work with them, assuming they have that luxury.