Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Why Fall Is a Great Time of Year to Find a Camp

Fall is a great time of year for parents to research a camp.  Your child’s summer experience is still fresh on your mind yet your child is settled back in school and you can now focus on next summer. 

Talk to camp directors –When choosing a camp, parents want to make sure they click with the camp director.   Ask key questions about the camp program and philosophy and make sure what the director describes sounds like it would be a good fit for your child.  Remember to give the camp director an accurate picture of your child and what your specific goals are for your child’s camp experience.
Open houses – Many camps have open houses and fall festivals that offer families a chance to see the camp facilities and get a feel for the camp.  They are also a good opportunity for families to get to know the camp director and ask questions about the camp philosophy and program while in the camp setting. 
Camp fairs – At camp fairs, parents  can walk around and meet different directors, learn about various programs and get a good feel for more than one camp all in a short amount of time.  Visit the ACA, NY and NJ website for a list of upcoming NY and NJ camp fairs.
Search for camp with your child – If you and your child are thinking that next summer would be a good time to go to camp, taking the time to start your search early will give you plenty of time to find the right camp.  Search camps online together and look over a camp’s website, video and social media.  They will give families a sense of what a particular camp is like. Most camp websites have photos, videos, virtual tours, and maps which will give parents and children a glimpse of the camp and the camp program.   Some camps will also tour during the off season if you would like to see the facilities. The more involved a child feels in the decision of choosing a camp, the more successful the camp experience will be. 
Look for camp early for savings - Families who have already decided on a camp for their child shouldn’t wait to register. Many camps offer early bird specials.  Registering early can be a real savings for parents and also ensures that your child won’t be shut out of the camp program he or she wants. Ask the camp if they offer payment plans which can make it easier for parents to pay for camp over the year.  Some camps also allow you to prepay the camp season and will give you a significant discount.
Make camp part of holidays – Thinking of some early holiday shopping? Instead of purchasing more electronics & toys for your child, you can make camp a holiday gift.  There is no better gift you can give your child then the chance to build life skills like confidence, leadership, creativity—skills that will help them throughout their whole life.  
Prepare child with overnights – If you are considering sleepaway camp, schedule some fall  sleepovers with friends and relatives and make sure these overnights are successful. Positive overnight experiences are a good sign that your child may be ready for sleepaway camp.  

Monday, May 11, 2015

5 Tips for Choosing a Camp Last Minute

For parents who waited until now to choose a summer camp for their child, don’t worry.  There are still some camps with availability.  Here are some tips for choosing a camp last minute.

1. Call the Camp Director - If you have a specific camp in mind, call the camp director and ask if there is still availability.  If it is a session camp, ask which sessions are still open and if there is space in your child’s age group. 
2. Be Flexible - Maybe you had the month of July in mind for camp but be open to the second session of camp programs.  This may mean changing around vacation plans or trips to see grandparents but the more flexibility you have, the better chance you have of finding the camp you want at the last minute. 
3. Even with last minute decisions, do your research - Even with last minute camp decisions, parents want to make sure they are doing their research and choosing the right camp for their child. Ask the camp director about the camp’s philosophy and program.  Does the philosophy of the camp match your families?  Does the camp offer a program that is of interest to your child?  Do you feel that the camp director is answering all your questions and happy to do so? You are forming a partnership with the camp director so you want to make sure you click with the director and feel comfortable leaving your child in the camp director’s care.  Ask if the camp is inspected each summer by the Department of Health and if the camp is Accredited by the American Camp Association.  Accreditation is a parent's best evidence of a camp's commitment to safety. 
4. Not too early to look for camp for summer 2016 - Looking this summer gives you the opportunity to go visit camps and see them in action before signing up.  Touring camps allows you and your child the chance to see what an actual day at camp will be like and see the lake, pool, bunks and activity areas.  Both day and sleepaway camps offer camp tours throughout the summer. A camp tour truly gives families a good feel about whether the camp is the right fit for their child and if you decide to send your child the following summer, he or she will feel part of the decision process.  By touring camp the summer before and deciding on a camp almost a year before sending your child, you are able to plan financially for camp.  Some camps offer early bird discounts for registering early or payment plans, allowing you to pay for camp over the year.  You can also make camp part of birthday presents and holiday gifts over the upcoming year.  Families can also inquire about sibling discounts for registering more than one child. 
5. Need help finding a camp for this summer or next? - Parents can call the American Camp Association, NY and NJ at 212.391.5208 for free, one-on-one advice in finding the right camp for your child.  

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Unplugging at Camp

Camp has traditionally been a place where children can connect with nature and with each other. But in today’s technological world, it can be a real change of mind set for both children and parents, to forgo technology for the weeks that children are at camp.

According to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, children ages 8-18 spend an average of 7 hours and 30 minutes a day using technology, more than 53 hours a week.   Now more than ever, children need camp to disconnect from media and engage in interpersonal connections.   Summer camp is one of the last unplugged environments.  For a few weeks at a time, children are unplugged from their computers, smart phones and ipads and are able to enjoy the outdoors and actually talk—not text—with their friends.   During the school year, children are inundated with technology.  At camp, children communicate face to face, using their words and not their fingers to communicate.

Before children go to camp, parents should keep in mind that each camp has their own electronics policies and with the increasing number of new electronics being introduced each year, camps are constantly altering their policies.   Parents should respect the camp’s decision on what is and isn’t allowed and not try to circumvent the policy. Most camps don’t allow devices that contain WiFi, video, gaming content, apps, messaging or phone call capabilities such as ipads, gaming systems, cell phones and smart phones.  Since reading devices such as the Nook and Kindle can connect to the internet, some camps don’t allow them although others do since many campers use them to read their books.  Music is an important part of camp so many camps allow Mp3 players that play music, however, if the Mp3 has video capabilities, camps ask that the videos and games are erased before camp.

Campers (and their parents) welcome the break from electronics while at camp and enjoy the unplugged time they spend talking and engaging in activities with friends. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

10 Tips for Preparing Your First Time Camper for Camp

With 88 days left until the first day of camp, you want to make sure you prepare your child for the experience before the first day arrives.   This will help make a child’s camp experience more successful.   Here are some tips for getting your first time camper ready AND excited for camp.

  1. Expectations –Talking about camp in the weeks leading up to the summer will build your child’s enthusiasm about camp.  Learn about the camp program and discuss it with your child so he or she knows what to expect.
  2. New camper get-together – Many camps host a pre-camp event for first time campers.  This is a good way for children to meet other children going to the camp for the first time.  It also gives campers a chance to get to know the camp director and for the director to get to know you and your child.   
  3. Successful overnights for sleepaway - If you are sending your child to sleepaway camp, your child probably has had positive overnight experiences away from home with friends and relatives.  If not, make sure you schedule some sleepovers for your child before camp.  You want to make sure these overnights are successful and that your child is mature enough to go away for an extended period of time.
  4. Bus preparation for day camp – For children heading to day camp for the first time, it may be the first time they take the bus.  Talk about what the ride will be like and what your child can expect. 
  5. Pack for camp with your child – If your child is going to sleepaway camp, discuss what items will be needed for camp and pack together.  Your child will feel more secure if they know what they are bringing to camp and you can use the time packing together to talk with your child about how much fun camp is going to be.  Make sure to look at the camp packing list and respect the items the camp asks you to leave at home such as cell phones and ipads
  6. Watch the camp video and visit website – This is a good time to watch the camp video again! This will be a good reminder to your child about all he or she has to look forward to.  Visit the camp’s website together and look at the activity list, photos and the camp map to give your child a feel for what camp will be like. 
  7. Don’t make pick up deals – Before camp begins, let your child know you are confident in his or her ability to have a wonderful summer camp experience.  Don’t make pick up deals with your child before he or she goes to camp. You are sending your child the message that you don’t feel he or she will be successful at camp.
  8. Questions – Ask your child if he or she has any questions about camp.   Keeping an open dialogue about what camp will be like will help your child feel comfortable about going to camp for the first time. 
  9. Call the camp director – If you sense your child is nervous about camp, you can always call the camp director and ask for their advice.  The camp director has a lot of experience with first time campers and will be able to offer you some ways which you can help your child get over any worries about the first day of camp. 
  10. Day camp spring festivals - Many day camps host spring festivals at camp, opening their doors to current families and prospective families.  Attending a spring festival is a good opportunity for your child to see the camp a few months before summer begins and build that excitement up.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

4 Ways to Get to Know a Camp

Camp is an amazing experience that gives children the opportunity to learn new activities, meet new friends, and learn essential life skills such as self esteem, leadership and confidence.  There are many different summer camps for families to choose from and each camp provides unique programming and approaches. Parents should consider what type of program and camp environment will fit with their child’s interests and personality.  With so many different camp options, what is the best way for parents to find out what a camp is really like before registering their child for camp?

The American Camp Association has some tips for parents to help them learn about a camp’s philosophy and character. 

Tour the Camp
A good way for parents and children to get a feel for a day or overnight camp is to tour the camp.  Scheduling a camp tour over the summer summer gives the future camper a chance to see camp in action.  A tour also gives you a chance to ask the camp director questions while you are in the camp environment.  If it’s not possible to tour the camp during the summer, schedule a tour in the off season so you can see the facilities and still get a feel for the camp environment. Camp tours give children the feeling that he or she is part of the process of choosing the camp and the more involved a child feels in the decision making, the more successful the camp experience will be.  

Rookie Days
There are many resident camps that offer Rookie Days which are designed to give future campers a chance to experience the camp in session by joining in on the camp activities before going to camp.  While children enjoy the camp activities, parents are taken on a tour of the camp.  Rookie days are wonderful ways for children and their parents to get a feel for what the camp is like and to determine if the camp is the right fit. 

Talk to the Camp Director
Parents want to make sure they click with the camp director.  Speaking with the camp director and asking some key questions is a good way for families to find out about a camp’s philosophy and if it matches their own.  Get to know the camp director through phone calls, correspondence and in person.  Often times, the camp director will come to your home or you can meet the camp director at a camp fair or camp open house.  Ask the camp director about the camps’ mission statement and what type of child is successful at camp.  The more open families are with camp directors, the better informed they will be when it comes to making a decision. 

Look at website, video and brochures
Parents and campers should take time to look over a camp’s website, brochure and video.  They will give families a sense of what a particular camp is like. Many camp websites have photo slide shows, videos, virtual tours, and maps which will give parents and children a glimpse of the camp and the camp program.  Many camps also include a sample daily schedule so families can see what a typical day at camp is like.  Camps will also send you a DVD upon request so you and your child can view the camp and see campers and counselors engaged in camp activities.

Need help finding the right camp for your child?  You can contact the American Camp Association, NY and NJ's Camper Placement Specialist Renee Flax at 212.3915208 for free, one-on-one advice in finding the right day or overnight camp for your child. Click here to search for ACA Accredited camps in the northeast.  ACA-Accreditation is a parent’s best evidence of a camp’s commitment to health and safety and ensures that children are provided with a diversity of educational and developmentally challenging learning opportunities.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

5 Reasons Your Child Needs Camp

 Are you considering sending your child to camp this summer but questioning the value in a traditional summer camp?  Here are just five of the reasons your child needs camp.

1. Unplug from technology – According to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey of young people, children spend 7.5 hours a day engaged in electronic media including cell phones, computers, TV and video games.  Instead of engaging in human interactions, children are staring at screens throughout the year.   The majority of summer camps have a no technology rule which will allow your child to take a much needed break from media and focus on building relationships, having face-to-face interactions and engaging in activities. 

2. Children build confidence – At camp, children gain confidence by learning new skills, making their own choices, trying new things, making new friends and by being part of a community which is supportive and encouraging.

3. Children gain life skills needed to become successful adults - The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, a group of businesses, education leaders, and policymakers including the U.S Department of Education, AOL Time Warner Foundation, Apple Computer, Inc., Cisco Systems, Inc. and others, found there is a large gap between the knowledge students learn in school and the skills they need to be successful in the 21st century.   They performed extensive research on the skills needed to become successful adults in life and work in the 21st century and many of the essential skills needed for success are all fostered at camp and include oral communication, collaboration, work ethic, creativity, leadership, social skills, problem solving and critical thinking. 

4. Play is known to help children in their social and emotional development -Today’s children are very busy with homework and after school activities and there isn’t much time for play.  The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reports that free and unstructured play is healthy and essential for helping children to reach important social, emotional, and cognitive developmental milestones as well as helping them manage stress.  Traditional summer camps give children plenty of opportunities to play which leads to healthy emotional and social development.

5. Gain self-reliance – Many children today are in constant contact with their parents through cell phone calls and texts.  Camp allows children a healthy separation which fosters independence.  Children need to learn how to rely on themselves and make their own decisions in order to become self-reliant adults.

Families looking for a summer camp can contact the American Camp Association, NY and NJ for free, one-on-one advice in finding the right camp for their child.  Call 212.391.5208 or visit www.searchforacamp.org

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

5 Reasons the Gift of Camp is the Best Holiday Gift for your Child

  1. Camp is a gift that will last a lifetime Camp will give your child so many experiences that will last forever.  The love of the outdoors, being part of a caring community, the benefit of having good role models, the confidence to try new things, learning to live with others outside of your family, gaining independence and so much more.
  2. A new toy can’t provide important life skills like camp can Camp is an environment where children can not only learn how to swim and horseback ride, but they gain important life skills that will help them grow up to be successful adults.  Camp fosters resiliency by giving children opportunities to fail in a supportive environment,  separation from parents gives a child the ability to think independently, children learn to be leaders in their camp community,  and camp provides children with opportunities to build confidence, among many other life skills.
  3. New experiences make the greatest gifts- Each day, children are trying something new at camp.  Whether it’s completing the adventure course, learning how to do the backstroke, or learning how to serve in tennis, children are learning new skills and experiencing something different.  Research by the American Camp Association shows that 63% of campers continue to participate in some of the new activities he or she learned at camp when they get home.
  4. Life-long friendships are priceless - There are many reasons summer camp has traditionally been a place that helps foster friendships that can last a lifetime.  Camp is an accepting community and a child can be themselves at camp.  Children eat together, live together and have fun at their activities together, which all leads to forming close friendships.  Camp professionals are also trained in the management of group dynamics.  They are trained to empower children in their group to feel comfortable and encourage each child to contribute to the group.  This helps children feel more secure therefore making it easier for friendships to be formed. 
  5. You are giving them a summer of fun – Camp provides fun every minute of the day.  From daily activities like arts & crafts, boating & soccer to special event days like carnival and color war, your child’s summer will be packed with non-stop laughter, excitement & happiness.

To print out a camp gift certificate to give to your child, click here.  Have a very happy holiday season!