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!

 

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

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!

Just Let Go & Send Them To Camp

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As parents, we only want the best for our kids and sometimes letting go can be the hardest thing to do.  We loved the latest post from Main Camp Experience highlighting Jessica Lahey’s book The Gift of Failure.

She says, “As a parent, it’s so hard to let go. It’s hard to say goodbye, and it’s hard to watch our kids struggle. But if we want to see the excitement and pride of accomplishment on their own terms, we have to learn to let go.”

Check out the full article here.

Does Camp Really Help Your Child?

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As we say goodbye to yet another fun filled Summer spent at camp, parents often wonder what lessons their child learned at camp.  When your child attends camp they learn how to work with others, try new things and create bonds with people who come from all different areas of the world. In a recent Huffington Post article, Todd Kestin, a professional teen coach and mentor, shares his own experiences of camp.

A must read!  Find the full article here.

What Are Camp Disruptive Moments?

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Disruptive moments happen when our brain is in a “sponge-state”, when we absorb and retain memories, feelings and ideas.  Camp provides these moments and new experiences every day like meeting new friends, performing in front of people at a talent show or seeing a sky full of stars for the first time.  According to Steve Baskin, owner and director of Camp Champions, camp counselors and directors know when these moments are happening.  How?  Read his entire article at Psychology Today.   We couldn’t agree more on his theory about the benefits of overnight camp.