I have been helping families find wonderful summer programs for over 30 years and I thought I had seen every challenge there is. I have watched camps handle lice infestations, meningitis scares, 9/11, Zika, rainy summers, recessions and more. Covid 19 is a new kind of challenge for camps and teen trips as well as for camp advisers and families like yours and mine. Tips on Trips and Camps gets daily emails from the camps we represent optimistically telling us how they are planning for summer 2020. Programs may start at a different date, the sessions may be altered, and health screens ramped up, but to paraphrase one Adirondack camp; We are all Camp People, and for two months of summer we deal with uncertainty constantly. We are resilient and determined and we are accustomed to adjusting the plan. That sentiment will be put to the test for sure. I believe the camp industry is up to the task!
The topic that seems to be on every parents’ mind these days is the coronavirus. It is front and center in our industry as well. Our summer camps and teen travel programs are monitoring the situation and working on ways to adjust and adapt if need be. We receive daily emails and are keeping current as this situation develops.
Meanwhile, if you are having trouble finding hand sanitizer, here’s a recipe you can make with the kids that might come in HANDY.
Homemade Hand Sanitizer
- 2/3 cup 99% rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) or ethanol
- 1/3 cup aloe vera gel
- 8-10 drops essential oil, optional (such as lavender, vanilla, peppermint, grapefruit)
- bowl and spoon
- recycled liquid soap or hand sanitizer bottle
To Make Hand Sanitizer
Nothing could be easier! Simply mix the ingredients together and then use the funnel to pour them into the empty bottles and you’re ready to go.
Sending a child to camp is exciting for any family, but how does a parent know that that their child is ready to take the plunge?
AGE: There is no singular age that is the “right” age. Some sleep-away programs take children as young as 7 but it is more common for a first experience to be at 8 or 9. Children are often ready to attend overnight camp well before the parent is ready to part with them. There are summer camps for first time campers at every age. There are traditional camps for younger kids, teen camps that start at 12 for middle school students, and broader experiences for high school students.
SHOWS INTEREST: If your child starts talking about camp, this is often a sign they are ready to start the process. Trepidation is normal. This is a new experience as they do not know what to expect.
HYGIENE: Any child going to camp must have some idea of how attend to basic personal needs. This includes showering (not bathing), able to wash their own hair, brushing teeth, etc. Bed wetting is not an uncommon issue and it is best to speak to a director to see how they handle the situation.
FOLLOWS INSTRUCTIONS: All camps have structure and all and all campers must abide by rules. This includes waking up at reveille, getting to activities, doing chores, etc. Kids do not have to be perfect but basic compliance and cooperation is needed.
ADAPTABILITY: An excellent indicator of being ready is If your child can adjust to new situations or speak to new people somewhat easily.
Once your child shows the signs of being ready, we can help you choose the right match for your family and your child’s interests. This new experience will help every child, every age, grow and develop.
We all want what’s best for our children, but what is that? How’s a thoughtful parent to balance their concerns and priorities with their child’s individual needs? A recent New York Times article says what children need most is to feel seen and understood. The article says, “You just have to show up, allowing your kids to feel that you get them and that you’ll be there for them, no matter what.”
The process of selecting a sleepaway camp or an overnight summer program is a great way to show your child that you see them. Talking together about their interests, involving them in the selection, respecting their concerns, and appreciating their likes and dislikes are all ways of showing a child that you see them for who they are. Families can find exactly what they want and need when they work with a camp advisor. We are experts on the programming, facilities, and overall feeling of the summer experiences we represent, so if a child doesn’t play sports, then we will recommend camps where their interests are the main events. If they don’t want to stay in a tent, then we’ll suggest summer travel programs with indoor sleeping arrangements. If they don’t want to swim in a lake, we will recommend sleepaway camps with pools. If they want to improve their Spanish but aren’t interested in a homestay, then we’ll look at language immersion programs with other instruction methods. You can give your child the opportunity to grow through an independent summer experience, while at the same time seeing them for exactly who they are. Let us help you find just the right program.
Every season we hear from parents who want to know about the best overnight camps. And we often hear about the camps a neighbor/cousin/school friend attends. But after almost 50 years in business, Tips on Trips and Camps advisors understand that selecting a sleep away camp that will work well for a child is not just choosing from a list of the “best” camps. It’s all about finding the best camp for each child, and that’s where we are experts.
We spend a lot of time discussing the ins and outs of choosing a camp with our families. We talk about how factors that define each camp may affect whether it’s a good fit for the child. Considerations like single-sex or co-ed, size of the camp, the type of activities offered, and activities by choice or by bunk are just some of the topics we discuss with our clients. We help parents consider how a variety of factors may affect how well a camp fits a child’s needs. We ask about how children make friends, participate in activities, and whether they like to try new things to help us choose camps that play to a child’s strengths and also gives them the opportunity to build new skills. We also ask about the location, transportation, session length, and price. And then we put all of that together to create a list that fits the child and the family – that’s the best list!
It’s time to think about Summer 2020. What will your kids be doing this summer? Do you prefer that they stay at home or explore new interests, make new friends and perhaps unplug for a period of time? An easy way to start the process of finding an overnight camp or summer program is to attend a camp fair.
Here are some reasons to attend a camp fair near you:
EXPLORE CAMPS AND PROGRAMS: Come with an open mind …. There are so many wonderful overnight camps and programs to learn about!
TALK TO DIRECTORS & ASK QUESTIONS: Most often it’s the camp director or assistant director who is at the camp fair. Talk to them and ask questions. Get a feel for the programs and what they are all about.
BRING YOUR KIDS: Let your kids explore, too. Let your child have a say in where they go. Don’t be surprised, though, if they find a camp or summer program different from what you think would be best for them.
Camp fairs provide an opportunity to collect information. Pick up brochures of camps and programs you are most interested in and then go home to review them.
If you’re lucky to be attending a Tips on Trips and Camps Fair, look for an advisor to help you. Ask them questions about the programs you’re most interested in. Didn’t see what you were hoping to find? Let an advisor guide you to the right camp or program.
And after you’ve reviewed the brochures you’ve picked up, call a TIPS Advisor for more information and, if needed, to help you distinguish between the programs you’ve found most interesting.
Check our website for the list of camp fairs in your city: https://www.tipsontripsandcamps.com/summer-advice/local-camp-fairs/
If you can’t find a Tips on Trips fair near you, give an advisor nearest you a call: https://www.tipsontripsandcamps.com/summer-advice/find-an-advisor/
Come to the fair with the confidence of knowing that WE are there to help guide you in finding the ideal program for your child!
You have already decided your child is ready for his first sleepaway camp experience. So when is the best time to begin the search? I am often asked., “Am I too early?” or “Am I too late?”
The answer is it is never too early or too late to begin to explore the world of camps. If you know you will be enrolling for 2021, Winter or Spring are great times to begin to explore options and plan tours of camps for Summer 2020. But if you are like most parents, planning that far ahead is not how you operate, so you will begin the search for 2020 whenever you have time between now and Spring. Here are some answers to the questions I am asked most often about timing:
- Will the “best” camps already be full?
In a word, NO! Just because a camp fills sooner or later does not determine whether that camp is “better.” When a camp fills depends on a number of factors including size, types of sessions and numbers of returning campers, to name a few.
- Should I be visiting the camp before enrolling?
A visit is NOT a prerequisite to finding the right fit. If you have the foresight to begin a search a full year or more ahead, you will want to visit, but most families do not. In fact, many camp directors will come to your home if you ask them. And if this does not happen, don’t worry; an extensive phone call with the director and/or a skype or facetime can work just as well. A visit in the “off” season can sometimes be a turn off as campers are not there, and many of the facilities are shut down.
- Is Spring too late to look for camps?
NO! While ideally you will begin your search the previous Fall or Winter, many wonderful camps still have space in certain age groups or sessions well into Spring. It will help if you are flexible with which sessions/dates your child attends.
Holiday time is the perfect time to think Summer. Beginning a camp search over the Winter break is a wonderful gift to your child.
Tips on Trips and Camps advisors compiled our list of great must-haves for every
camper, traveler, and summer student! Here are a few of our favorite things…
We found some great games for the bunk, tent, or dorm room! Try your luck at Five Crowns or Left Center Right. Laugh with your friends as they act out dance moves with Truth or Dance. And test your mental quickness with Scattergories Categories or Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza.
Deck the bunk with lots of fun items such as a pillow with arms! Capture the moments with a Fuji Instax Mini Camera. And amuse your friends with the Coke vs. Pepsi or Would You Rather series of books.
Every traveler needs these fantastic accessories. Packing cubes will keep the messiest kid organized. An Eno hammock is a must-have for relaxing on the trail. And don’t underestimate the value of a good, battery-operated fan!
A recent Forbes article discussed how overnight camps do a great job teaching kids the soft skills they need to flourish as adults. Sleepaway camp is a multi-layered experience that prepares children for college and beyond.
Teamwork, conflict resolution, problem-solving, leadership and communication skills, resilience, decision-making, empathy, and friendship building are just some of the ways children can grow when children attend camp. Each camp day provides so many opportunities for growth – setting a goal, learning a new skill, trying a new activity, navigating friendships, being a team captain, earning a reward for a job well done, comforting a bunkmate, completing a chore, and more.
I see how sleepaway camp helped with the development of soft-skills in my own house. Once our children have exposure to all these skills at camp, then it’s easy for us to continue herding them toward independence when they return home. My oldest child started college this fall, and he has done a great job transitioning to an independent life. From self-care to advocating for himself, I can see how his camp experience provided a kind and stable base for him to learn and try out all the skills he needs to create a joyful and purposeful life. I am thankful for his camp experiences and it is part of the reason I enjoy helping other families find the best camps and programs for their children. Please let us know how we can help your family.
As camp advisors, we are so lucky to visit camps each summer. In addition to meeting loads of happy campers and connecting with directors, we also meet many four-legged friends. At so many of our favorite summer places, the camp dog is an integral part of camp life!
The happiest dogs are camp dogs! Who wouldn’t love endless scratches and belly rubs, plenty of room to roam, and so many kids to meet? But the benefits of camp aren’t just for the dog; many camp directors understand the positive impact a dog can have on the camp community.
Though some children are understandably afraid, many kids love animals, and dogs in particular. A friendly, tail-wagging dog can be the perfect remedy for homesickness, providing a spirit boost to a child who may need it. The dog can be the glue that helps bond friendships and can assist a shy kid in making a new friend. And, a dog can make camp feel like home.
Dogs embody the values that are front and center in the camp community. They love unconditionally, they don’t care what you look like or what you are wearing, they are inclusive and accepting, and they don’t judge. Tails up for the camp dog!