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

TOP THINGS TO LOOK FOR WHEN VISITING CAMPS

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Congratulations! You’ve survived the months of May and June (sports every night, endless school functions, birthday parties, etc.).  You are on a break from making lunches and helping with homework and your kids are happily tucked away at day camp.  You are ready for your summer of VISITING OVERNIGHT CAMPS!!  By now you’ve seen the videos and you’ve chosen a few to tour.  Here are the 5 most important things to consider while you’re at camp:

OWNERS:

I can’t talk about this enough.  For some reason people tend to overlook the importance of the owners/directors of camp.  These are the people that are taking care of your kids for 7 weeks!   You should trust them and their judgment.  You should feel a connection with them and so should your child.  When they are taking you on the tour pay attention to how the current campers interact with them.  Does it seem like the owner knows every camper’s name or is he pulling the old, ‘hey buddy’ when one of the kids runs up to the golf cart to say hi?

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FACILITIES:

There’s two schools of thought on this one.  Some parents are adamant that camp should be camp.  Rustic.  No bells and whistles, just like they roughed it at their camp 30 years ago.  Some parents figure if they are spending so much money they should be getting beautiful facilities.  Neither is wrong or right.  It’s just a preference.  You do want to check out the conditions of the bunks, dining hall, and other areas around the camp just to make sure they’re clean and safe.large_0fa5ea0f04

STAFF:

I love it when I’m touring camps and I get introduced to a staff member who has been there for 25 years.  Whether it be the chef, the arts and crafts lady or someone on the maintenance staff.  They’re always the most beloved by the campers and owners.  Their love for their summer home shines through when you meet them, it’s the best thing to see.

Although it’s hard to really get a feel for the counselors when you’re on a 2 hour tour,  you can notice where they’re from, how old they are and things like that. They should always be friendly and introduce themselves to visitors.  Ask the owner how many staff members return year after year, how many have left during the summer and why.  Firing counselors is not an indication that something is wrong at camp, it’s actually the opposite.  If a counselor has done something that warrants dismissal you don’t want them being given second chances.

Ok, you are ready to go.  Comfy shoes (sneakers, no flip flops), sunscreen and lots of coffee. (You will be tired.) Remember, don’t stress, this is supposed to be FUN!

Happy Camping!