May 17, 2011 | Suzanne Shaffer | 2 Comments Most of us have experienced summer camp at one point in our life. We sang Kumbayah around the campfire, went on nature hikes, and played pranks on other campers. At the end of camp we went home with plenty of dirty laundry, arts and craft projects, and some new friends. Back in those days, the thought of going to summer camp to prepare for college was the last thing on our minds, or our parents’ minds for that matter. They shipped us off to camp to keep us occupied and enjoy some well-deserved time to themselves. Times have certainly changed. Parents have recognized the need for college preparation; and they are now able to combine that preparation with a camp. That’s right–summer camp can now be more than dirty laundry and arts and crafts. Academic Summer Camps Summer camp is the perfect time to improve academic skills and enhance specific interests. You can find public speaking camps, acting camps, creative writing camps, computer camps, video production camps and even camps that offer college tours. Centered around areas of interest, these summer camps give students the chance to immerse themselves in things that interest them. This immersion can also contribute valuable career information as students begin to plot their college path and choose their major. Pre-College Summer Programs Colleges around the country provide summer programs for college-bound teens. These programs give high school students the opportunity to test drive college life, discover some amazing schools and begin the search to find the colleges that are the best fit. Attending the right summer pre-college program gives students a good foundation and background, thus setting the stage for a successful college search. There are also camps available to help high school graduates transition into college life in the fall teaching the campers to manage their time, energy and finances. These camps also teach soon-to-be college students how to sharpen their communication skills, presentation skills, study skills, and reading and writing skills. Summer Leadership Programs It’s no secret that the key characteristic colleges look for in an applicant is leadership. Even though every one of us contains that quality in our own unique way, leadership camps can teach students how to apply those essential skills and use them as the opportunities become available. These summer programs teach team building, decision making, time management, goal setting, public speaking and even conflict resolution. You can also explore future career options and meet the leaders in your field of interest while going behind the scenes. Just as summer academic programs have multiple themes, some of the leadership themes include: entrepreneurship and business, intelligence and national security, international diplomacy, U.S. policy and politics, and mastering leadership. Summer Orientation Camps Colleges provide summer orientation camps for incoming freshmen every year. These camps are geared toward helping the new freshmen establish relationships, meet their academic advisors and usually register for fall classes. Some freshmen orientation camps go beyond these standard practices by offering social activities and games, team building exercises and even school spirit. One such camp is Texas A&M’s Fish Camp that lasts four days and completely immerses the incoming freshmen in Aggie life. Preparing for and transitioning to college can be an overwhelming experience for most students. Preparation is always the key to a less stressful experience and also a well-informed college choice. Taking advantage of these summer camps and programs will add to your readiness. The up side–you will come home with new skills, career options, and knowledge about college life. The down side–you probably won’t be making any arts and craft projects or come home with a valued rock collection.