Only a working mom would sit in the middle of March and wonder what she was going to do with her brood in 3 months. But, you have to plan!! There are so many camps to choose from and some of them are half-day, some are full-day.. some are overnight camps, others are day camps. There are sports camps, drama camps, art camps…. BWAH!!!! Where does it stop?? At some point, you just say “forget it, you’re all just staying home and entertaining yourselves”.

Sadly, that’s not logical. They’ll get bored. Then they’ll start to bother you. Then they’ll start whining that they have nothing to do. Then they’ll want to go back to school.

And it’s only June 30th at this point.

So, where do you go for local information on camps?

My friend, Scott Ertl started compiling a list of local camps 8 years ago and it’s definitely one of the most robust ones in our area. I asked Scott to give us the low-down on camps in town as well as offer any advice or pointers for parents.

Here’s Scott’s advice:

How can parents save money when enrolling their child in a summer camp? 

  • #1 Register early to take full advantage of all early-bird discounts!
  • #2 ASK if they have scholarships, financial aid or a sliding scale.
  • #3 Ask friends of your child(ren) to register together for a group discount.

How can parents prepare their children for attending their first summer camp?

  • Day camps are more fun when children know at least one other camper who will be attending. Don’t assume that they will be in the same group, let the camp director know your preferences when you initially register your child.
  • Take a tour of the facility. Let them view their website ahead of time. The more familiar they are with the environment, the less overwhelming they will feel.
  • For residential camps, make sure that this isn’t the first time your child will be sleeping away from home. Let them practice overcoming their separation anxiety with a couple of sleep-overs with friends or family before going to a residential camp.
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How do parents find if a summer camp has had any complaints filed against them? 

  • Look up the camp on the Better Business Bureau for any grievances. (BBB.org)
  • Ask your friends through social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) if they have had any positive or negative experiences with the camp. Your friends will tell you!

When should teens start sending in their resumes to camp directors for summer jobs?

  • Most camp counselors return year after year. Camp Directors start receiving job applications in January and February for their new positions. With the high levels of unemployment, there will be a tremendous competition for jobs. Send follow-up emails and make phone calls to show your interest. Camp Directors want fun camp counselors who campers will enjoy being around, while also respecting and obeying them. The more experience you have working with kids, the better. Volunteer with your local schools, YMCA, churches, scouts, and other civic organizations to build your experience levels.

What qualities should parents look for in a great summer camp?

  • A high percentage of returning campers shows that the campers had fun last year.
  • A low camper-to-counselor ratio. 10:1 is good. 5:1 is great!
  • Staff trained in CPR, first aid skills, and conflict resolution techniques.
  • Low staff-turnover shows good experience.

What different types of summer camps are there?

  • Arts Camps
  • Sports Camps
  • Church Camps
  • Residential Camps
  • Specialty Camps

What special tips are advised for sleep-away camps?

  • Kids love receiving notes, money and care packages–even if they don’t tell you.
  • Having a friend who is going along can make the camp experience more fun.
  • Share any concerns you have with the Camp Director, but let them deal with any discipline problems. Don’t be a “helicopter parent” who flies in to resolve problems and hovers to micromanage the details.
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If my child takes medication during the school year, should my child take it for summer camp? 

  • First, consult with your child’s pediatrician before ever deciding to stop treating your child with any medication.
  • Most children with allergy, asthma, diabetes, attention and impulsivity conditions are not “healed” during the summer months. Many times it can be worse with the heat, additional exercise, and being outside. Children with medical issues usually need special treatment to help them enjoy their summer camp experience the most.
  • For children who take medication for their attention or impulsivity, it can be especially hard for them to listen to instructions, get along with peers, and control their impulses when they are not on medication.
What have been your experiences with camp? Any local favorites?

Special thanks to Scott Ertl, School Counselor & WScamps.com webmaster (and mastermind!) for his help with this post, organizing a great site over at WS Camps and all the great tips!

You can find a full listing of camps at WScamps.com and be sure to “like” their page on Facebook for the latest listings and up to date information and an easy way to share the info with your friends!!

Kristen

Are you raising a teen or a tween? Join the conversation over at Ten to Twenty Parenting!
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