Want to know what’s new in the camp world? Check out these four trends:
Specialty Camps Within Traditional Camps: For families interested in a specialty program for their child but who don’t want to sacrifice the traditional summer camp experience, there are camps whose specialty programs offer the best of both worlds. Children can focus on a specialty, whether it’s tennis, horseback riding, or dance, and still have time for activities such as cooking, arts and crafts, swimming, and more. These programs offer an alternative to a traditional camp experience for a child who wants to specialize in something. Bryn Mawr, a traditional all-girls overnight camp, offers two specialty programs within the camp. For girls who love horseback riding, Bryn Mawr Riding Camp offers quality riding instruction and the chance to develop riding skills, all within the traditional camp setting. Girls also have time in the day to participate in non-riding activities such as waterskiing, cooking, or a high-ropes course. Bryn Mawr’s Dance Camp is a similar structure for girls who love dance. Campers get instruction in ballet, tap, jazz, contemporary, musical theater, and modern dance while also enjoying traditional camp activities. For both programs, the girls are bunked separately when they do a specialty program. Indian Head, a co-ed overnight camp, runs Indian Head Academy, which offers campers an intensive tennis program for one week in June. Campers focus on taking their tennis game to the next level with first-rate instruction, drills, and off-court conditioning.
Multiple Summer Programs: While many families prefer a seven or eight week camp program, others are interested in their child going to a few different summer programs throughout the summer. Whether it’s because a full session camp doesn’t work due to other obligations or a child who just wants to try different things, there are so many programs with different session lengths to choose from. From academic programs on college campuses to one week baseball camps to shorter session camps, piecing together multiple programs is something that some families find work best for their needs.
Tutoring: For campers who need to maintain academic skills over the summer or have an upcoming bar or bat mitzvah, both day and overnight camps offer tutoring. Camps will work with parents to fit tutoring into a camper’s schedule. Gate Hill Day Camp offers families their Sparks tutorial program. The program is customized for the camper by the parents, teachers, and tutors provided by the camp. Each week, a camper will spend a number of hours with their tutor and then rejoin camp activities. Parents should know that they don’t need to keep their child out of camp just because he or she is in need of tutoring while school is out.
Healthy Food: Sure, camps still serve summer favorites like pizza, macaroni and cheese, and ice cream, but camp owners and directors know parents want healthy options for their children. Over the years, many camps have revamped their menus, consulting with nutritionists to offer campers delicious and healthy options. Besides healthy meals being served, camps have stations set up in the dining hall including breakfast bars with fruit, yogurt, and granola. Salad bars for lunch and dinner are filled with garbanzo beans, kidney beans, tofu, fresh vegetables, and grilled chicken. There are also soup bars, sandwich bars, pasta bars, and fresh fruit served all day. Elmwood Day Camp serves only antibiotic and hormone free meat products, organic milk and yogurt, 100 percent whole wheat bread products, and has a completely trans-fat free menu. They also serve many “made from scratch” foods such as homemade macaroni and cheese with only cheddar cheese, flour, pasta, and butter. Does sautéed fresh broccoli with garlic, baby arugula, radicchio, and cherry tomato salad with fresh blue cheese crumbles dressing and charcoal-grilled sliced London broil steak sound like a typical camp dinner? That’s just one of the meals served at Point O’Pines, a girls’ camp in the Adirondacks. Owner and director Jim Himoff is so passionate about fresh, healthy food, that he has his own food blog on the website along with the daily menu, which reads like a menu at a critically acclaimed restaurant. The camp also has an organic farm-to-table program where campers plant meals from home-grown vegetables.