Summer camps are usually a fun experience for kids. They leave the mundane school experience and go off on overnight sleepaway camping excursions with people they may have never met before. They become fast friends and it usually ends up in lifelong friendships, even more then the friendships they make in school. Generally, school friends become friends because you are thrown together in the same room for 8 hours a day, and not because you necessarily like the same things. When you find friends at camp, it is because you both decide to take the same courses, you both love archery, or you both love fishing, and that becomes a bond much stronger than being forced into an academic class that you may or may not enjoy.
There are many choices for summer camps, and it’s important to consider them all and see what is out there. This is going to be an experience that will last a lifetime for your kids, so it needs to be right.
Does the camp offer things that your child will enjoy doing? If they love animals, check to see if there are horseback riding classes. If they like music, maybe a dance class? You don’t want a camp that is basically just a babysitter, you want something that will keep your children engaged and excited about being there.< Has your child ever been away from you for a night? How about a week? Seems like a long time to be away from Mom and Dad, and that can be overwhelming for some kids. You will want to make sure that the camp offers provisions for homesick children if they are an overnight camp. Food is also important, you need the right nutrition to stay energized to do all the activities that camp has to offer. If your child requires a special diet, such as gluten free, lactose free, or has allergies such as peanut butter or soy, it is extremely important to find out what the camp has to offer for these issues. While it may not seem like a huge issue to some, you might also want to check what religious activities the camp has to offer. If your family goes to church every Sunday, does the camp have a place of worship that your children can go to, so they keep up with their routine? What if you are a Pagan family and need some alone time in nature? Does the camp allow this? Faith is a huge part of many people’s lives and therefore, something you will definitely want to consider when choosing a camp for your child. Something else to consider is how children are to handle chores. Will they be doing their own laundry, do they drop it off and come back later after someone else does it? Does the camp have routines for wake up and sleep times? How do they deal with showering? And if you have a daughter, how do they deal with the change of life? If things like menstruation start, whether for the first time, or for an unprepared young woman, do they give them any help with info or products? It can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t really have to be. Write down what you expect out of a camp, a checklist of sorts; then interview the different camps and pick which camp has the most “must haves” on your list. Many camps also offer scholarships, if money is an issue. Your children shouldn’t have to miss out on life, just because you may not be able to afford it. Check around, you might be surprised who can help you, even if you are low income. They may not advertise it, but ask if they offer scholarships anyway. Being from NY, one of the first camps that came up in my search was www.chateaugay.com. They seem to have a lot of info right on the site, but they also have an option to contact them if you have any questions. I think you will find that most camp websites will be similar in this aspect.