Summer camp?! That’s right. Summer’s over and your children are back at school, but it’s not too early to think about camp for 2013. If you’re considering day or sleepaway camp, there are ways to research and plan for camp throughout the year. Here’s a month-by-month guide to help you get ready for your child’s next great summer camp experience.
Go to 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. These events are 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.
Search for a camp with your child. 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. Most camp websites have photo slide shows, videos, virtual tours, and maps that give parents and children a glimpse of the camp and the camp program. The more involved a child feels in the decision of choosing a camp, the more successful the camp experience will be.
Look for a 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 mean real savings for parents and also ensures that the child won’t be shut out of the camp program he or she wants. Ask the camp if it offers payment plans, which may make it possible to spread payments out over the year. Some camps also allow you to prepay the camp season and will give you a significant discount for doing so.
Talk to camp directors. 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 whether a camp’s philosophy matches their own. Get to know the camp director through phone calls, correspondence, and personal visits. Make sure you give the camp director an accurate picture of your child and share your specific goals for your child’s camp experience.
Make camp part of the holidays. Instead of purchasing another toy or video game for your child, you can make camp a holiday gift. Grandparents may appreciate this gift-giving option, as well.
Prepare your child for overnights. If you are considering sleepaway camp, schedule sleepovers with friends and relatives and make sure these overnights are successful. If your child feels panicked and needs to come home in the middle of the night, he or she may not be ready for sleepaway camp.
February through June … getting ready for summer camp—>
Organize home visits and attend camp fairs. These are good ways to get to know a camp director and learn about a camp program. Ask about the camp’s mission statement and what type of child is successful at the camp. Camp fairs bring dozens of camps to a community and provide parents the opportunity to speak one-on-one with many different camp directors in one day. Oftentimes, a camp director will come to your home for a home visit, which allows you to get to know the director and for the director to get to know your family.
Share positive messages. As camp approaches, talk to your child about the camp program and the activities he or she will be participating in. Parents should let their child know that they are confident in the child’s ability to have a successful camp experience.
Pack together. If your child is going to overnight camp, 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.
Mail a letter to camp. Send a letter to sleepaway camp so your child receives it the first day they are at camp. Remind him or her that they are going to have a great time at camp.
Believe it or not… camp season is here again!
Jess Michaels works with the American Camp Association of New York and New Jersey. To read more camp-planning tips, visit The American Camp Association, New York and New Jersey.