Of the more than 12,000 camps in the United States, approximately 5,000 are day camps – and the number continues to rise.

According to the American Camp Association, the number of day camps has increased by 90 percent in the past 20 years. Why? ACA immediate past national president Ann Sheets attributes it to the growing demands of our society. “The growth of day camps is phenomenal because of the need for summer child care,” she explains. “And parents can send a child to day camp for considerably less than residential camps.” But day camps are not babysitting services. Most day camps offer the same benefits of residential camps but on a smaller scale. They are an excellent and less expensive way to introduce a child to the camp experience without the long-term commitment – almost a “try before you buy” program. Day camps typically accommodate younger children than residential camps and offer more flexible hours. And then there are the programs – everything from performing arts camps held at the Magik Children’s Theatre to art camps held at the Southwest School of Art & Craft, and animal interaction camps at Sea World and the San Antonio Zoo. If your child can imagine it, chances are there is a day camp for it. One of the most popular summer day camp programs is Summer at the Academy, held on the campus of San Antonio Academy and known for the diversity of classes offered. Here children can try anything from Lego camps to princess camps. Another choice is Summer at the Hall, a program offering athletic, academic, fine arts and for-credit classes at Saint Mary’s Hall.

Many parents, seeking a wide variety of experiences for their children, use day camps as a supplement in between residential camp sessions. “We are seeing a growing trend of families sending their children to multiple camps during the summer,” says Sheets. “They are combining day camps with residential to offer their children the best of both worlds.”