1st Year Camper? We Got You Covered

It’s an exciting time for you and your camper, their first year at overnight camp.  We have a few ideas to help them get excited about camp and stay excited.

Gifts

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Gift giving makes everyone smile. Plan for a few family members or family friends to send a camp related gift before camp starts. Something special, personalized and unique. A few of our families give personalized pillows & blankets. Check out some of the latest camp gift trends like Ga-Ga gloves, personalized clothing, and bunk games.

Camp Playdates

Perfect-Scoop-1The more, the better!  Get a list of campers in your child’s age group and see who lives close by.  Scheduling a group playdate for ice cream or roller skating will be a blast. The more people your first-time camper gets to meet before the first day of camp the less anxious they will feel.  If you can’t schedule an actual playdate, schedule a facetime meet & greet.

Sealed & Delivered

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Many of the camps suggest sending a letter a week before camp starts.  Campers love receiving mail and will love it even more if they have mail waiting for them. Remember, they call it “snail mail” for a reason.  Leave plenty of time for the letter to get to camp.

Don’t Freak Out: Get Organized

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It’s that time to get organized, don’t worry we’re here to help. Here are just a few of our favorite Summer packing tips:

  • Be in the know. Get to know any camp regulations regarding bunk items.
  • Include  pre-stamped envelopes or pre-addressed postcards, we promise you’ll get more letters this way.
  • Label all of your items with your child’s name. Triple check everything!
  • Home items, make sure your child packs pictures and fun items that remind them of home.  You want their “camp home” to feel cozy. Especially the bed, order mattress pads or egg crates for the extra comfort.
  • Send a letter to your child at camp before camp begins, tell other family members to do the same.
  • Pack with your kids. Let them see what you are packing so when they get to camp they had an idea of what was in their bag.  Show them you packed specific shoes for certain sports or where the extra batteries are tucked away.  Most camps will unpack the younger campers for them, so when they arrive their area is all set up.  It’s still a good idea for them to know what was packed.
  • Pack Smart. Protect breakable items such as a tennis racket, make sure its protected.  Pack it between bed sheets or towels for extra cushion.  Find out what  bunk cubbies or under the bed storage your camper is allowed to bring.  Make sure they are collapsible and durable, it’s best to utilize them when packing. For example, pack items inside of the bins such as smaller or personal items.   You could also add a packing list inside the duffle, this helps the counselors and your camper to know what was packed.
  • Don’t Forget. Take a deep breath and take a picture of your camper sitting on their duffel.  It’s officially the first photo of the camp season!

 

Life Skills: The Camp Way

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Sending your child off to sleepaway camp could be a hard decision to make. During your decision process, remember how important and healthy this milestone is for you and your child. Psychologists agree, Maureen Monaghan from Children’s National Medical Center, says “giving kids an experience of being on their own in a structured, supportive, supervised environment is a great idea.”

Having your child, and you, overcome fears is a life lesson that affects many more situations to come.  For example, being homesick for a few days and then realizing it goes away or working to climb the top of a rope wall that seemed super scary on the first day of camp.

We know there are so many questions you and your child might have.  Take a breath, read this amazing article from the Washington Post.  We can’t agree more!

Traditional Camp vs Speciality Camp

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Most overnight camps from the Poconos to Maine are what we call “traditional overnight camps”.  They offer an array of activities, old fashion camp traditions, and daily scheduled activities for 7 weeks.  Whether it’s a coed or single sex camp, a traditional bunk consists of 10-12 kids and the bonds of friendships are unbreakable. Most camps today understand the need kids have to practice their “activity” of choice.  For example, they will offer extra private tennis lessons, extra time on the baseball diamond, or more time spent in the gym getting that back tuck perfect.  Some camps will have professional coaching on staff or send the kids off camp to meet with speciality coaches.

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Speciality camps are perfect for the older child in high school who wants to make their high school team. They are also great for that child who really wants to focus on sharpening their skills in his or her sport. Most specialty camps are 2 weeks long and are located on a college campus or off-site location.  Typically there are no bunks, the children sleep in a door room with a roommate or two.

Both options are a fantastic way to spend a summer. Still unsure?  Give us a call, we can tell you about the many different camp options available and help answer any of your questions.

How Camps Give Back

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Camps give kids new experiences, friendships that last forever, and camp fires. But, have you ever thought how camps give back to the community?  We were pleasantly surprised to discover all of the ways they do!

Each August, Camp Manitou hosts the Experience Camps for Grieving Children. The week is for children who have experienced the death of a parent, sibling, or primary caregiver.  Camp Manitou gives these kids a wonderful opportunity to just be a kid, bring their smile back, and make new friends.

Even when camp is over, Camp Manitou was still giving back. This past Fall they were involved in Manitou Fall Service Day Weekend. Campers and parents volunteered their time to revitalize gardens and dog play areas, cleaned local beaches, and ran a 5K  to benefit cancer and other research.

Many camps participate in The Camp Champions program which helps to send hundreds of children in need to camp every year!  Campers will participate in special events or races throughout the Summer to raise money to help kids experience camp.

Camps got involved with the social connection too!  Camp Vega created a special hashtag and every time a picture was shared using it they would donate $10 to the Dunk Your Kicks campaign, which helps support pediatric cancer research. This past year campers have volunteered at

Campers at many camps have also volunteered at Camp Sunshine or donated to The Tutu Project.

Camp gives so much more than just s’mores, lake time, and color war cheers.  Camp gives back!

WelcomeBack

Camp Research 101

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Thinking of camp? There are so many things to think about. What are your personal goals on how camp will be best benefit your child? You will have to decide the order of importance. There is no right or wrong, just what works best for you and your family.

I suggest that you do your homework first to narrow it down to two or three camps.  Involve your child in the decision making process with only your top choices. It’s important to make them a part of the process, but it’s smart to give them the places you feel they would excel.

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Camps, like people, have their own personality. For those of you who are starting early, you will have the opportunity to visit a few camps to get “the feel”.  After visiting several camps, I often get a familiar phone call from my clients. “We loved them all. I can’t explain why, but camp C just felt like the right place for us! I didn’t believe you when you said we would feel it, but we did.” For those of you who are looking for this summer, no worries, my partners and I visit every summer and are here to give you “the feel”.

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Co-ed, single sex or brother-sister? The first two are self-explanatory. For those of you who don’t know, brother-sister camps are single sex camps connected in some way. They could be on the same campus, on the other side of the lake or down the road.  Think about your home setting. Is your child an only child? Are all your children the same gender or mixed? Do you want them to go to camp together or separately? Do they attend a co-ed or a single sex school? If they are in a coed or single sex school, do you want camp to be the same? Or change it up a little?

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Location, location, location. Some of you want a camp close to home, others want the prestige of Maine, and the rest of you just want the best camp for your child! Of course, our goal is that you can have it all.

The camps personality. Each camp has its own philosophy, type of scheduling and program emphasis.  What are your child’s interests?  Does the camp focus on sports? Arts?  Does your child do better with structure or choice?  Often, a traditional camp will introduce the younger campers to each activity. As the campers get older, they are able to choose and focus more on the things they like. You’d be surprised, not all sports kids want to play sports all day at camp. They may find it rewarding and relaxing to go to ceramics!

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Camp owners/directors. Make sure you meet with the owner/director of the camp. If you are looking for a camp this summer, most are happy to come meet with you at your home. Just like you, they want to make sure your child is the right fit for their camp.  Watch how your child reacts to them. I remember one of my parents telling me, “I can’t believe it, my child started out sitting across the room from the director at our home visit. Before I knew it, he was snuggling right next to her listening to all the exciting camp stories!” Need I say more?

I’m sure you’ve heard people say, my kids go to the best camp! Just remember, what’s best for them may not be what’s best for you. In the end, after your child attends camp, yours WILL BE THE BEST CAMP too!

-Sue Ellen Greenberg

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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