Majority of Adults Look Forward To Summer Now As Much As When They Were Kids… Especially Women and Parents

NEW YORK, N.Y. –  As heatwaves abound and pools overflow, The Harris Poll learned that kids aren’t the only ones walking on sunshine.  And even though over half of Americans feel it is more stressful to be a parent during the summer than during the school year (58%), seven-in-ten adults say they look forward to the summertime as much now as they did when they were children (69%). 

Women are more likely to look forward to summer with child-like levels of excitement than men (74% vs. 64%, respectively), and the same goes for parents with children under 18 in their households over those without (77% vs. 66%, respectively). 

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,028 U.S. adults surveyed online and in English between June 9 and 11, 2015.

Do you know where your children are?

School may be out for summer, but a break from homework doesn’t necessarily mean total freedom for America’s children.  Nine in ten adults believe children need structure over the summer (89%), a sentiment supported especially heavily by parents (93% vs. 88% non-parents).  So what is in store for kids this summer?

Interestingly, though half of Americans believe finding reliable childcare is easier for parents during the summer than during the school year (51%), parents are less likely to say so than those without kids in the household (44% parents vs. 53% non-parents).  So it’s not all that surprising that when asked how their children will be spending this summer, a strong majority of parents say they’ll will spend at least part of their summer at home (66%). 

  • Those in two-parent households where one parent is a “homemaker” (83%) are especially likely to say their children will be staying home for at least part of the summer, though strong majorities of both single parents and those in two-parent households without a “homemaker” do indicate the same (59% and 61%, respectively).

The next most popular summer plan, favored among a three in ten minority, is children spending their days at friends’ or relatives’ homes (29%). 

Meanwhile, 22% of parents will be sending their kids to camp (17% to day camp, 9% to sleep-away camp) and one in ten parents have children who will be working (10%).

  • When specifically looking at parents of children between the ages of 13 and 17 there is a clear spike in employed children.  One in three of these parents will have working children this summer (31%).

Fewer than one in ten parents will have children in day care (8%), or summer school (7%), and 5% will be leaving their kid(s) with an au pair, nanny or babysitter.

  • And it’s not much of a surprise that parents with children 5 and under will be those most likely to be found dropping their kids off for day care (13%).

Summer camp decisions

Over four-fifths of adults feel that the lessons learned at summer camp are just as important as those learned in school (84%), but only a bit over two in ten parents will actually be sending their children to some type of camp this summer (22%); it’s worth noting that this swells to one-third among those with children aged 6-12 (34%).  So what are the factors determining where – if anywhere – parents are sending their kids this summer?

Almost all parents agree that cost is an important factor when deciding where to send their kids (93%), with 61% saying it is very important.  

Just under nine in ten adults believe that proximity to home (88%), certification of the teachers/counselors (88%), balance of outdoor and indoor activities (87%), and the availibity of educational opportunities (86%) are also important aspects to consider.

  • When looking at “very important” ratings, teacher/ counselor certification pulls ahead among these four factors (52%), followed by educational opportunities (46%), indoor-outdoor balance (45%), and finally proximity to home (44%).

Over four-fifths of parents believe the accreditation of the establishment/camp is important (82% – 51% very important), while around two-thirds are convinced of the importance of payment plans (68% – 35% very important) and additional/flexible hours (65% – 35% very important).

In addition, 51% of parents each feel that provided transportation and the ability to qualify for reimbursement are important (28% and 21% very important, respectively).

Fewer than half of parents feel to camp are religious affiliation is important (44% – 19% very important), while one-third say the same of special need accommodations (33% – 16% very important).

How old is too young?

With so many options for how a child might spend their summer, when are they old enough to venture out of the nest?  According to a plurality of Americans (48%), children are ready to attend day camp when they are between the ages of 6 and 9 years old.  However, sleep-away/travel camp is seen as requiring a bit more maturity, with the largest percentage of adults (46%) believing it’s appropriate for a child to begin attending between the ages of 10 and 12.

More opportunities abound once a child reaches 13-17 years old.  Between these ages, majorities of adults believe kids are ready to stay home alone during the day (55%), get a job/internship (58%), or work as a babysitter (73%).

But there are still a couple things adults only trust other adults to do.  Only upon reaching or exceeding age 18 do Americans feel it’s appropriate to work as camp counselors (58%) or as an au pair/nanny (74%).

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TABLE 1

HOW CHILDREN WILL BE SPENDING THE SUMMER

“Thinking of your child(ren) aged …, how will they be spending their summer this year?  If you have more than one child in this age group, please think of the child whose name comes

first alphabetically when answering. Please select all that apply.”

By HH Marital Status and Children’s Ages

Base: Parent/Guardian of Child under 18 in HH

 

Total

HH Marital Status

Children’s Ages

Single Parent

2 Parent HH with a “Homemaker”

2 Parent HH without a “Homemaker”

Age 5 or Under

Ages 6-12

Ages 13-17

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Staying home

66

59

83

61

69

61

67

Spending their days at friends’/relatives’ homes

29

28

22

32

20

34

34

Camp (NET)

22

23

13

24

10

34

19

     Day camp

17

14

12

20

8

28

10

     Sleep-away/Travel camp

9

12

7

9

3

15

10

Working

10

13

5

11

3

3

31

Day care

8

7

*

11

13

8

Summer school

7

3

8

8

8

5

8

With an au pair/nanny/babysitter

5

6

*

7

8

6

Other

14

17

10

15

6

16

23

Note Sure

3

8

3

2

4

4

3

 


TABLE 2A

IMPORTANT FACTORS IN MAKING SUMMER CAMP DECISIONS

“Whether or not you actually plan to send your child to any activity outside of the home this summer (e.g., summer school, day camp, sleep-away camp), how important are each of the following factors in determining whether or not you would pursue one of these options?”

Summary Grid

Base: Parent/Guardian of Child under 18 in HH

 

Very/
Somewhat Important (NET)

Very important

Somewhat important

Not At All/
Not Very Important (NET)

Not very important

Not at all important

%

%

%

%

%

%

Cost

93

61

31

7

3

4

Proximity to home

88

44

43

12

7

5

Certification of the teachers/counselors

88

52

35

12

5

7

Balance of outdoor and indoor activities

87

45

42

13

8

5

Educational opportunities provided (e.g., swim, foreign language)

86

46

40

14

9

5

Accreditation of the establishment/camp

82

51

32

18

10

8

Availability of payment plans

68

35

33

32

15

17

Additional/Flexible hours (e.g., early drop-off, late-stay care)

65

35

30

35

18

17

Transportation provided

51

28

23

49

25

24

Ability to qualify for reimbursement (e.g., through a workplace “flex” plan)

51

21

29

49

23

26

Religious affiliation

44

19

25

56

21

35

Special needs accommodations

33

16

18

67

16

51

 


TABLE 2B

IMPORTANT FACTORS IN MAKING SUMMER CAMP DECISIONS

“Whether or not you actually plan to send your child to any activity outside of the home this summer (e.g., summer school, day camp, sleep-away camp), how important are each of the following factors in determining whether or not you would pursue one of these options?”

Summary of Very/Somewhat Important

By Gender and HH Marital Status

Base: Parent/Guardian of Child under 18 in HH

 

Total

Gender

HH Marital Status

Male

Female

Single Parent

2 Parent HH with a “Homemaker”

2 Parent HH without a “Homemaker”

%

%

%

%

%

%

Cost

93

91

94

93

95

92

Proximity to home

88

87

89

86

92

87

Certification of the teachers/counselors

88

82

91

88

90

86

Balance of outdoor and indoor activities

87

81

91

90

91

84

Educational opportunities provided (e.g., swim, foreign language)

86

80

90

88

92

83

Accreditation of the establishment/camp

82

72

89

84

92

78

Availability of payment plans

68

64

71

73

67

67

Additional/Flexible hours (e.g., early drop-off, late-stay care)

65

71

61

77

46

68

Transportation provided

51

54

49

66

33

52

Ability to qualify for reimbursement (e.g., through a workplace “flex” plan)

51

53

49

61

43

49

Religious affiliation

44

40

46

42

44

44

Special needs accommodations

33

35

32

35

30

34

 

 


TABLE 3

WHAT AGE IS APPROPRIATE FOR SUMMER ACTIVITIES 

“At what age do you believe it’s appropriate for a child to begin to do each of the following?”

Summary Grid

Base: All adults

 

Attend a day camp

Attend a sleep-away/
travel camp

Stay home alone during the day

Get a job/
an internship

Work as a camp counselor

Work as an
au pair/nanny

Work as a babysitter

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Ever (Net)

97

95

96

97

95

91

97

5 years of age or younger

14

1

1

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

6-9 years of age

48

15

2

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

10-12 years of age

23

46

32

1

1

2

10

13-17 years of age

10

29

55

58

37

15

73

18 years of age or older

1

5

5

38

58

74

13

Never

3

5

4

3

5

9

3

 

 

 

 


TABLE 4A

IMPORTANT FACTORS IN MAKING SUMMER CAMP DECISIONS

“Whether or not you actually plan to send your child to any activity outside of the home this summer (e.g., summer school, day camp, sleep-away camp), how important are each of the following factors in determining whether or not you would pursue one of these options?”

Summary of Strongly/Somewhat Agree by Gender and Parental Status

Base: All adults

 

Strongly/
Somewhat Agree
(NET)

Strongly agree

Somewhat agree

Strongly/
Somewhat Disagree (NET)

Strongly disagree

Somewhat disagree

%

%

%

%

%

%

Children need structure over the summer.

89

45

44

11

8

3

The lessons children learn at summer camp are just as important as those learned in school.

84

28

55

16

14

2

I look forward to the summertime as much now as I did when I was a child.

69

28

42

31

22

9

I think it is more stressful to be a parent during the summer than during the school year.

58

17

42

42

31

11

Finding reliable childcare is easier for parents during the summer than during the school year.

51

9

41

49

37

12

 

 

TABLE 4B

IMPORTANT FACTORS IN MAKING SUMMER CAMP DECISIONS

“Whether or not you actually plan to send your child to any activity outside of the home this summer (e.g., summer school, day camp, sleep-away camp), how important are each of the following factors in determining whether or not you would pursue one of these options?”

Summary of Strongly/Somewhat Agree by Gender and Parental Status

Base: All adults

 

Total

Gender

Parent of Child
Under 18 in HH

Male

Female

Yes

No

%

%

%

%

%

Children need structure over the summer.

89

88

90

93

88

The lessons children learn at summer camp are just as important as those learned in school.

84

78

89

86

83

I look forward to the summertime as much now as I did when I was a child.

69

64

74

77

66

I think it is more stressful to be a parent during the summer than during the school year.

58

57

59

50

61

Finding reliable childcare is easier for parents during the summer than during the school year.

51

56

46

44

53


Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online, in English, within the United States between June 9 and 11, 2015 among 2,028 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online. 

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

 

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll.

 

Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

 

The Harris Poll® #45, July 29, 2015

By Hannah Pollack, Harris Poll Research Analyst