Eve sat down to discuss the benefits of summer camps and programs for children today, advice for parents and how Tips on Trips and Camps can help you find the right program for your child. Click to listen!
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Whether your child is spending a few weeks or the entire summer away from home, parents can experience a little anxiety sometimes called Empty Nest Syndrome. Regardless if children are 8 or 18, it is hard to say goodbye. However, a summer separated from your children is a great opportunity for you to have a few weeks of “me” time!
With no kids in the house, or maybe fewer kids in the house, this is a great time for parents to enjoy a break. Here are ways to make the summer go by quickly and have fun:
- Pick up a hobby. Ever thought about learning to knit? Have a bike collecting dust in the garage? Now is the time to start something new! Whether it’s a group activity or solo, you can impress your kids with something you learned during the summer.
- Take a trip. While the kids are off having an adventure, why not do something exciting for yourself? Travel, or have a “staycation”, for a week or a weekend – somewhere you always wanted to go but knew the kids wouldn’t enjoy.
- Take a summer course. Community colleges offer great courses for the summer that will help improve your skills and knowledge. Sometimes these courses can improve your job situation too! It will even help you revisit what college is like now in preparation for when your kids get to that age.
- Enjoy the moment. Remember to pause for a second and embrace the quiet. It’s rare with children but it is a great reminder that you’ve given your child a memory they’ll have forever.
- Tackle those chores that never seem to get done – cleaning closets and donating old clothing is always my favorite.
- If you have other children at home, use this opportunity to have more “one-on-one” time with them. They will appreciate every minute. Include them in some of your adventures so they can share stories just like their siblings.
- If you have no other children at home, this could be a great time to reconnect with your spouse or partner. There is never enough time for this!
Keep in mind the summer is a lot shorter than you think. Once your children return home, you will remember these few weeks with fondness and longing. As you return to carpools and cell phone messages, you too will start dreaming about summer 2016!
As I prepare my oldest son for graduation from high school and the transition to college, I am not worried that he will be one of the many freshman students who have difficulty with leaving home. Years of traditional summer camps, wilderness/adventure and travel have given him so much confidence in himself and his ability to face new environments with excitement, instead of trepidation. I have no doubt that he will do just fine socially. My fear instead, is that he will do too well socially, and not concentrate on his academics. Admit it – we all have that fear.
In my job as a Camp Advisor, I see it over and over again – the separation anxiety – but usually it is the parents’ anxiety. Often when I meet parents who are interested in sending their kids away for the first time, they admit to me that they are the ones who are not ready to let go. They would prefer one week of camp instead of three or six weeks. In truth, one week is never enough for the child who has barely learned where the dining hall and bathrooms are, before having to go home. They don’t get the opportunity to make as good friends in a week as they would life long friends in the course of a summer.
I applaud parents for knowing there is value in summer camp and teen programs and I understand the financial constraints that are put on families. They are giving their children many gifts with the gift of camp. Parents are giving children self-confidence and often opportunities to explore their personalities and abilities. The children get to find out more about themselves (likes and dislikes, talents, passions) away from the kids they have known their whole lives who have preconceived notions of who they are and where they fit in. Teens can explore career options on college campuses and get a feel for what it would be like in the next phase of their lives. They can taste the freedom of living in a dorm, but the parents have the benefit of knowing their children are well supervised by the program’s staff and counselors. They can master a language and gain confidence in being able to travel to exotic places. For example, learning to take a subway in Paris or order off a menu in China is an experience that builds confidence.
So as summer looms in the not too distant future, consider what would benefit your child the most. Push them to push their limits and stretch out of their comfort zone. Let them explore a passion and see if it is all it is cracked up to be. There is value in finding out that they don’t love a career as much as they thought they would. It might save years of education and training in the wrong direction.
It’s not uncommon for a first time camper to experience homesickness. Some campers may even have a mild case in their 2nd or 3rd year at camp. I can speak from experience having attended camp and gone through homesickness myself. My first year at camp I cried every night getting into a cold sleeping bag and wrote a letter every day that I wanted to come home! Luckily my parents knew enough not to pick me up early!
Not addressing homesickness can significantly affect important life-lessons and social skills. Preparing a child for camp and staying away from home will help them when leaving for college and gaining an independent life as they mature.
For every child, coping with homesickness will vary. There are several ways you can help prepare your children for a summer away from home:
- Let Them Choose Camp. By involving them in the camp selection process they’ll be more confident and excited to be there. It gives them a sense of control.
- Discuss What Homesickness Is. Tell your child how they might feel when not staying at home and let them know that it’s okay to have these feelings. At camp it’s most typical to get homesick at night. Encourage them to be open with their counselors if they are feeling sad or missing home.
- Practice Sleeping Away. A weekend with a friend or family member is a great way to introduce being away from home. Be sure to limit communication with your child. This will give them an idea of how it will be while they’re at camp. Spring Break and long weekends during the school year are perfect times to practice.
- Encourage New Friends. Many children will be scared of not knowing anyone at camp. Prior to camp encourage your child to make new friends. Some camps have a big brother/big sister program where they match a new camper with a returning one to be a buddy before and during camp.
- Send a Letter. It will be a great surprise and a reminder of home to send a letter that will be waiting for them when they arrive. Write frequently! Remember to be encouraging and let them know how proud you are of them for attending camp. Most importantly, remind them to enjoy the summer and have fun!
All camps have staff trained to help children cope with their homesickness and some children forget all about it within a few days. Typically, counselors will encourage campers to share reminders of home with each other. Talk to your camp’s director to find out how they specifically handle homesickness and include your child in that conversation too.
A great reminder for parents is to not express your own concern or anxiety about your child leaving for the summer. If they see your strength and confidence about how much fun they’ll have at camp, it will put them at ease.
When choosing a first-time camp experience, it’s important that the camp is the right fit for your child: socially, philosophically, in its program offerings, the level of instruction and competition, facility-wise…just to name a few.
As a camp advisor, I like to get to know as much as possible about your child, his needs, and your requirements for camp so that I can make suggestions for appropriate camps that I feel would be a good fit. I’ll have brochures and dvds mailed to you, and I’ll let you know that I am available to speak with you about the options to help you to distinguish between the programs. It’s important for your child to be part of the decision-making process, since if he is on board, chances are that his first-time camp experience will be a very successful one.
Often times parents ask me “which is your favorite camp?” or “which camp should I choose?” Choosing a camp is a fun process that need not be stressful! Parents who ask the right questions, and go with their gut feeling upon speaking with the director are on the right track, and will likely choose the camp that best fits their child’s needs and suits his personality. I like to send families a “list of questions to ask” …it can be very helpful and has various points to consider that first-time camper families may not have thought about (for instance, “will my child have to cross a main road to get to an activity?” or “how does camp handle requests for a bunk change…homesickness…bullying… teasing? ” etc.)
Most importantly, you’ll want to have a phone conversation with the director of camp. Even better, meet the director in person—typically, directors are happy to come to your home and meet you and your child. This is a very important step, as the director is ultimately responsible for your child while at camp. You want to be sure that the director’s philosophies line up with yours, and that you feel comfortable with leaving your child under his or her care.
Go with your gut feeling, and then don’t look back. If you’ve done your due diligence, asked the right questions, and feel at ease with the person in charge, you will make the right choice. As a camp advisor, I am here to help guide you with suggestions, information, references, and inside scoop. Armed with all of this information, you will be confidant with the program you end up choosing.
Tips On Trips And Camps
Summary: Learn about the current trends in summer overnight camps & programs for kids ages 12 & under. Tips on Trips and Camps can help you find the camp that fits your child’s interests.
Baltimore, Maryland (PRWEB) March 02, 2015
There are more opportunities than ever for kids ages 12 & under to participate in all types of different summer programs. Eve Eifler, co-owner of Tips on Trips and Camps, says, “Traditional camps are still the prevailing choice for parents. Even within that framework, however, specialty instruction can be found.” A parent might want designated time and instruction in tennis or football, for instance, if their child is going back to a fall sport tryout.
Co-owner Carey Rivers adds, “If kids are not interested in traditional camps, because of an aversion to the outdoors or to bugs, there are a multitude of specialty camp offerings.” Housed on boarding school or college campuses, opportunities exist in forensics, filmmaking, culinary arts, emergency medicine, creative writing, or a wide array of the arts.
Food allergies used to be a major hurdle in the decision for some parents to send their children to camp. Canadian camps were way ahead of the curve on dealing with food allergies, but now camps in the Northeast especially are catching on and making accommodations for kids with all types of allergies. Eifler says, “While directors have always taken seriously the charge they have in caring for others’ children, this new layer of responsibility is being met in all sorts of new and formal ways. I visited one camp that has professional chefs trained in cross-contamination and registered dietitians on staff to prepare menus. This camp is peanut, tree nut, shellfish and sesame free and can accommodate campers with dairy, nut, wheat, soy, egg and fish allergies.”
Camps used to be fairly consistent with their communication policies, allowing only letter writing between camper and home and having a “no electronics” policy. Rivers said, “Many camps now allow emails between camper and parent so that campers can have more immediate contact with their parents. And, many camps have photographers taking pictures of the campers and posting daily to the camp website.” Some directors are even loosening the ban on cell phones. If a parent is more comfortable with a camp where a kid has limited use of their cell phone, then there are plenty of options out there. I visited a camp last summer that takes cell phones away for the first week in order for the kids “to bond” and then allows limited use thereafter, but only at certain times of the day. Rivers continues, ”But, for those parents who still believe in no screen time at camp and snail mail only, there are still many traditional camps that have remained true to the ‘back to basics’ formula.”
Some parents are reluctant to allow a child to go the whole summer without academics, commonly known as the “summer brain drain.” To answer this call, there exist many options for summer school enrichment, from the remedial for the struggling student to higher order learning for those kids who want to remain fully engaged over the summer. Eifler shares, “We have seen an uptick in summer programs for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). At one camp, campers can work alongside architects, videographers, builders, engineers, and designers on collaborative projects that serve as the centerpiece of their camp session. One group of campers built the water polo goals for camp and another group built an entire underwater city.”
Since some kids begin overnight camp at the age of 7, they may be looking for a change in atmosphere by the age of 11 or 12. Other kids skip the traditional camp experience altogether, but may be interested in some sort of focused travel. Rivers says, “Teen trip organizations have accommodated this growing trend by offering marine biology, community service, and biking trips (to name a few) for 11 & 12 year olds. Some provide a base camp model whereby the camper can spend 50% of their time in camp and 50% on out on trips.”
Eifler concludes, “There is a summer program out there for any type of child. If your child has never gone to camp and is looking for something out-of-the-box or if your child has gone to camp for years and they are looking for a change, do not fear. There is a camp out there for everyone!”
Tips on Trips and Camps, Inc. is a FREE service specializing in overnight summer experiences for children ages 7-19. Call 866.222.TIPS or visit our website at www.TipsonTripsandCamps.com . Once you register, a local advisor will follow up with you immediately. Rivers adds, “you know your child and we know the camps. Together, we can find the RIGHT match.”
Tips has partnered with IMG Sports Academy to giveaway a FREE week of camp this summer! IMG Sports Academy is a premier sports camp that offers the chance for your child to improve their athletic performance and play the game as never before. Whether a novice or a pro, IMG Academy’s summer camp provides the sports training youth need to play at the top of their game.
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Entering is EASY! Follow the steps in the form below for your chance to win a FREE week at IMG Academy for your child. Contest ends on March 6, 2015. One winner will be selected from entries.
This is the time of year, that parents are finalizing their teen’s summer tours/trips. We, as parents get so wrapped up in the details, that sometimes we forget about the big picture.
For instance, if your teen is going on a community service trip, it should be more about expanding their horizons, rather than logging in their required hours. Nothing can compare to visiting new places, meeting new people and gaining a better understanding of another culture.
A language immersion program is not only good for enhancing their language skills or prepping for the upcoming school year, but it builds confidence in your teen inherently by being in an atmosphere where they have to learn as they go along.
A precollege program can look good on a teen’s resume, but they also walk away with a new sense of responsibility and maybe even more appreciation for all you do at home.
A teen tour seems like all fun and games, but along the way, they learn how to get along with all types of teens, and can sometimes be put in a position where they need to resolve conflicts and learn the art of compromise.
To summarize, you should expect your teen to have fun, accomplish a goal, but most importantly build character and come home a better version of the teen they were when they left.
When seeking a summer camp or a teen program for your child, think about asking yourself this: Whose experience is this? Simple, right? It is your child’s experience and not your own.
So when looking for a sleep away camp or teen program, let’s not forget to seek out the experience that best fits your child and not simply replicate what you may have had. There is a distinction between wanting your child to love camp as much as you did, and sending him to a camp that fits what you but maybe not he or she would enjoy.
Many parents call me and say something like “I loved my camp and think I am going to send my child there, but I am calling you to see what else is out there.” While it is natural and appropriate to want your children to love their camp experiences as much as you loved yours, that experience is often found at a place that is different from where you went as a child. Perhaps your camp had a choice schedule, but you feel your child needs more guidance and structure. Perhaps your camp was super sporty , but your child isn’t interested in competitive athletics, likes to play just for fun or is focused more on the arts.
Certain characteristics will be non negotiable no matter what camps you consider; your values, your ideas about supervision and safety, for example. But others will be very child specific, like activity offerings, level of competition and types of programming.
So when beginning your sleepaway camp search, remember, you are looking for a place where your child can be happy and grow, and it may just be different from the place you loved as a child.