Oct 6, 2014

Back to Camp Season

The leaves are turning colour, there is a cool breeze in the air, kids are back at school and parents are planning for…….. summer camp?

The leaves are turning colour, there is a cool breeze in the air, kids are back at school and parents are planning for…….. summer camp? We know that many of us have barely finished the last load of laundry from this past summer and our kids are just getting back into the swing of things at school, so how can it possibly be time to register for camp already? While it may seem crazy to some (yes, even I find the pace of this industry nutty), it is the season to start doing your research for overnight summer camps. So if you are like me and often need a little advice on where and how to start planning kids activities, here are a few helpful tips to get you started.

1. Talk to friends. There is a lot of information online and tons of Summer Camp Guides that are published annually, but with so much information, we know it can be overwhelming and hard to navigate. Start by picking a few parents who have gone down this path already and see what they have to say about summer camps they selected. Chances are they did their own research and not only can they share a few of the camps they looked at but they can clearly give you advise on what camp they choose, how their own camper enjoyed it and if they were happy with their choice! Just remember though to select parents who were looking for similar things as you. Are you looking for a camp that specializes in one particular activity? Are you eager for your camper to go to camp with his/her school friends or would you prefer they branch out and do something different on their own? Are you looking for a more traditional overnight camp with limited technology or would you prefer they have all the comforts of home and have the chance to communicate daily with home? Each of these questions is specific to each family and can help you narrow down your choices.

2. Talk to the Directors. You can learn a lot about a camp by calling and simply chatting live with the Directors and Owners. Get a feel for the personality and values of the camp. Every camp has activities and fun things to do but who are the people behind the place and what do they stand for? What do they want to do for YOUR camper?

3. Meet in person. If you are looking at a camp that has offices where you live, schedule a home visit or see if there are Open House events you can attend. A phone call is always great but meeting face to face is even better and most Camp Directors/Owners are always willing and eager to meet in person.

4. See the camp in action. If you are an eager beaver and planning now for the following summer (many will be envious of your advance planning!) call and schedule a tour during the upcoming summer (this can likely be done even in the spring time). Nothing shows you what camp is really like other than visiting in person, getting a tour and seeing camp in action. While it may be an itty bitty sneak peek, you can at least put a place to a name and have a visual for when your camper (and you) might one day be ready.

My last bit of advice is to go with your gut and do what feels right. Just because everyone else is doing something it doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for you. There are a lot of camps out there with great things to offer, but not all of them are right for everyone. Camp Directors have a lot of expertise in helping parents figure out if this is the right time for your camper to start and they can help navigate the waters. But at the end of the day, you know your child best, you know when they might need that gentle push or when they might need just a little more time.

Oh, and if you really can’t get your head around the idea of planning for summer this early, don’t stress too much, you may miss out on one or two early bird discounts but chances are you can find a camp that has a space or two open around the campfire even in the springtime.

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