Wanted: Camp Gifts!

Camp gifts seem to trend 12 months a year, it’s always a perfect time to give a camp gift.  Whether it’s for a first year camper getting the nervous and excited bug or the 10 year camper that still lives for it, we have our favorite camp gifts they will love.

Anything Emoji Goes

Emoji-pillows-2It was definitely the year for the emoji! Anything and everything emoji is camper approved.   These pillows can be found at our favorite camp stores like Lesters or Denny’s Childrens Wear.

Polaroid Camara

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It’s back and so much cooler! Your camper will love taking selfies with the original insta-photo.  The perfect accessory to decorate their room and bunks with, we love different kind of film available in bright colors and designs.

The Onesie

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It doesn’t have to be Halloween for your camper to dress up.  The fuzzier, the better! Campers love them for themed evening activities or staying warm by the camp fire.  Either way, it’s a gift they love to stock up on throughout the year.  Shop them at Party City stores or Wallmart.com.

It’s a Sock Thing

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We love this trend and it keeps getting better.  Campers love to collect different themed socks all year round.  Living royal has so many silly and colorful socks, it’s hard to pick the perfect pair.  Available in boy and girl styles.  Shop it here.

Meeting The Camp Owners-What You Need To Know

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It’s that time of year when camp directors are busy traveling from town to town, meeting prospective campers and their families. This is such an important part of finding a camp because it works two-fold: parents see it as a time to find out more information about a camp (especially if they haven’t visited) and meet the owners, and camp directors get to know families to make sure they’re a good fit.

As one camper directly recently told me, “The most important part of a home visit is for the parents to get a feeling of comfort from the camp directors.  Not only to give information about their child, but also to find out about the people taking care of their child.”

Another camp director noted, “As camp directors we have very little one on one time with parents– visiting day is a ‘hi and bye’.  So the only opportunity we have to cultivate a relationship is on a home visit. A camper’s success at camp is dependent upon parents and directors having open communication and feeling comfortable with one another.”

The top 10 (ok, maybe more) questions to ask a camp owner on a home visit:

  • What is a typical day at camp like?
  • Tell me about your food choices – dietary restrictions/allergies
  • Communication with camp – how many phone calls? What happens if my child needs something?
  • How do you bunk campers?
  • Where is the staff from?
  • Where do the campers come from?
  • How is laundry handled?
  • What out of camp trips do you take?
  • What happens if my child is homesick?
  • How often will my child see his or her siblings?
  • How much choice will they have in their day?
  • Who handles bunk issues?

Some more good questions for camp owners:

Do you have children of your own? Do they attend your camp?

(If not an owner, but a representative):  How many years are you hoping/planning to continue working at this camp? What is your relationship with the owner? (Are you related by family? A prior camper? Did you go to this camp as a child?) Have you worked at other camps, and if so which ones?

What do you do when you have a challenging inter personal situation among campers? What resources do you tap into for advice and handling the tricky situations that can occur in day to day camp life?

What are examples of situations where you have had to call parents? How sick does a camper need to be for me to be notified?

What are the most important characteristics when you are hiring staff? Where do you hire your counselors from?

Are you OK with giving your cell phone number to parents to have “just in case” or for peace of mind?

How do you handle homesickness from the smaller children?

Remember, this is your time to find out everything you need in order to feel comfortable with the family taking care of your child. As we were all taught in school- the only stupid question is the one not asked! So ASK, ASK, ASK!

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Coping with a Nervous Camper

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Camp Lady Confession:  I was a nervous camper.  And, I have a lot of clients with nervous first-timers this year. More than usual.  As parents we can see the value of camp, but for  kids that tend to be more anxious in general, it can be scary and exciting at the same time.  Which makes those kids  even more amazing for wanting to give camp a try.  They won’t regret it.  There are ways to help your new camper through their nervousness to make the months and days leading up to camp easier for them (and you).

Be willing to talk honestly- of course focus on the fun things about camp but don’t ignore the fact that they will be homesick in the beginning.  It’s better if they are prepared for it and know that it’s normal and expected.  Their counselors are trained and ready to help them get over the hump and start having a great time.  Maybe you have your own camp experience to draw from and you can share how you handled feelings of homesickness.  The best advice I’ve heard  from a camp director is that you can miss home AND have fun.  It doesn’t have to be one or the other.  Let your child know that almost all of the new campers are in the same boat- they feel nervous when they arrive at camp, even if they don’t show it on the outside.

Take advantage of your camp’s events during the winter- most camps offer get togethers and new camper events throughout the year so  campers can get to know each other.  Everyone has such busy schedules but make time and go.  Your child doesn’t have to make a best friend right away, but even having a familiar face for the bus ride can really help.  Your camp owners and directors are your best resource for finding local families with new or existing campers to connect with and they are more than happy to give you some names.  If you have a child that loves to form close relationships with adults, give your camp owner a call and they’ll come to your house.  They can chat, hang out, get to know your family better, show pictures and tell camp stories.  This is what they do best so let them do the work!