• Countdown To Camp

    A handy planning timeline for every step in the summer camp process

    By Jess Michaels

    Mohawk Day Camp

    It may be cold outside and camp may be far from your mind, but if you are considering camp for this summer—or even 2019—there are ways to research and plan for camp throughout the year. The American Camp Association, New York and New Jersey, suggests the following month-by-month camp planner with ways to plan for your child’s summer camp experience.

    For Summer 2018

    February/March

    Home Visits and Camp Fairs: These are both good ways to get to know a camp director and about a camp program. Ask about the camps’ mission statement and what type of child is successful at camp. Camp Fairs are free events that bring dozens of camps straight to parents, allowing parents to have one-on-one conversations with many camp directors to find out about their camp program. They can be a great way to find out about a few camps all within a short period of time. Check out the New York Family Camp Fairs to meet with camps you may be interested in. Also consider a home visit from the camp director. He or she will come to your home for a visit which allows you to get to know the director and for the director to get to know your family.

    April/May

    Spring Festivals/Open Houses: Many camps host spring festivals and open houses at camp which is another great opportunity to visit the camp and talk to the camp leadership if you haven’t made a camp decision yet. If you’ve decided on a camp already, attending the spring festival is a good way for your child to see the camp again and get acquainted with it before camp begins.

    Share Positive Messages: As camp approaches, talk to your child about the camp program and the activities he or she will be participating in. Parents should let their child know that they are confident in the child’s ability in having a successful camp experience. It’s also a great time to re-watch the camp video to get your child excited for the amazing summer ahead.

    Touring: If you are considering camp for 2019, this is a good time to schedule a tour for July or August. Touring during the summer gives families a chance to see camp in action with campers enjoying all the fun activities. A tour also gives you a chance to ask the camp leadership questions while you are in the camp environment.

    June

    Pack Together: If your child is going to overnight camp, pack together. Your child will feel more secure if they know what they are bringing to camp and you can use the time packing together to talk with your child about how much fun camp is going to be.

    Mail a Letter to Camp: Send a letter to sleepaway camp so your child has a letter the first day they are at camp. Let them know how much fun they are going to have at camp.

    July/August: Camp is finally here!

    For Summer 2019

    October/November

    Fall Festivals/Open Houses: Many camps have open houses and fall festivals that offer families a chance to see the camp facilities and get a feel for the camp. It is also a good opportunity for families to get to know the camp director and ask questions about the camp philosophy and program while in the camp setting.

    Search For A Camp With Your Child: Parents and campers should take time to look over a camp’s website, social media profiles, and videos. They will give families a sense of what a particular camp is like. Most camp websites have camp photos, videos, virtual tours, and maps which will give parents and children a glimpse of the camp and the camp program. The more involved a child feels in the decision of choosing a camp, the more successful the camp experience will be.

    Look For Camp Early For Savings: Families who have already decided on a camp for their child shouldn’t wait to register. Many camps offer early bird specials. Registering early can be a real savings for parents and also ensures that your child won’t be shut out of the camp program he or she wants. Ask the camp if they offer payment plans which can make it easier for parents to pay for camp over the year. Some camps also allow you to prepay the camp season and will give you a significant discount.

    Need Assistance? Renee Flax at the American Camp Association, NY and NJ, is available year round to offer free, one-on-one advice in helping you find the right camp for your child. Renee will talk to you about your child, what you are looking for in a camp, and offer you a couple of suggestions on camps that would be a good fit for your family.

    December/January

    Talk to Friends and Neighbors: It’s great to ask friends where their children go to camp but keep in mind each child is different and while one camp may be good for that child, it might not be the best fit for others. Getting recommendations from friends is a great starting point, but remember to do your own camp research.

    Talk to Camp Directors: Parents want to make sure they click with the camp director. Speaking with the camp director and asking some key questions is a good way for families to find out about a camp’s philosophy and if it matches your own. Get to know the camp director through phone calls, correspondence, and in person. Make sure to give the camp director an accurate picture of your child and what your specific goals are for your child’s camp experience.

    Make Camp Part of the Holidays: Instead of purchasing another toy or electronic device for your child, you can make camp a holiday gift.

    Prepare Child for Overnights: If you are considering sleepaway camp, schedule sleepovers with friends and relatives and make sure these overnights are successful. If your child felt panicked and needed to come home in the middle of the night, they may not be ready for sleepaway camp.

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