If your child attends a single sex parochial school throughout the school year, then a co-ed camp might be a welcome change in the summer. Some would say that socializing in this closely supervised atmosphere is a healthy and natural part of growing up. Of course, you would want to make sure that the level of supervision fits your expectations. Some kids and parents might want a break from the sports competition of the school year. A co-ed camp inherently is less competitive in this regard. Some parents think that single-sex camps are unlike the real world and so choose a co-ed camp that more closely mirrors the outside world. Many faith-based camps are co-ed so that children of a same belief system socialize together in the summers.
At a time when most companies are down-sizing, camp advisory service Tips on Trips and Camps, Inc. continues to expand.
Co-owner Eve Eifler just announced that Ellen Blum will join the Tips on Trips and Camps team this year as an advisor in Boston. Eifler said, “Ellen Blum comes to us as a camp lover through and through. She has two camp age children and was a camper herself in Maine for many years. Her enthusiasm is infectious and she cannot wait to help the families of Boston find the highest quality summer programs for their kids.”
Co-owner Carey Rivers of Washington, D.C. says, “In the last two years, we have added 7 new consultants and expanded our reach into Chicago, Dallas, Hartford, Boston, and Barcelona, Spain. We are proud of the service we provide to families all over the United States and abroad.”
Tips on Trips and Camps, Inc. (“Tips”) was started by two moms in Baltimore in 1971 who wanted a better way to research camps and teen programs for their own children. Today, Tips serves families throughout the United States and abroad via the internet and maintains area offices in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., New York City and Westchester County, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Southern Florida, Connecticut, St. Louis, Chicago, Dallas, New Jersey, Paris (France) and Barcelona (Spain).
Parents call one of their local Tips consultants or register on the Tips website www.TipsonTripsandCamps.com and get instant, FREE access to hundreds of carefully screened and selected camps and teen programs. Rivers said, “We provide clients with the information they need to make an educated decision on summer programs for their child – from questions for directors, to references to call, to on-site visit reports. We are better than Google!”
With all this success, however, Tips on Trips is a relatively unknown resource to many parents. Eifler agrees, “We are not a big budget operation, but our service is invaluable to the parents who know to use it. Our business is mainly word-of-mouth and we keep our clients happy! Of the hundreds of placements we made to camps and teen programs in 2011, 96% of families rated our matches as EXCELLENT or GOOD. We are happy to bring this excellent client service to Boston!”
Now that I know where my child is going to camp, the next big decision is, WHAT DO I PACK FOR CAMP?! The good news is–you probably have many things you need already! Take the camp packing list (usually found the web-site or in the welcome packet) and see what you have around the house first before rushing off the buy everything. See if the camp suggests living out of a trunk or packing in duffel bags that they will stow during the session. Remember, you want your child to have fun and not worry about ruining anything, so send older clothes. I used to tell my kids to leave their socks at camp. They get sooo filthy, you would never get them clean again and most likely, they will bring back someone else’s!! Ask the camp how often they offer laundry service. Most likely, you will only need to pack enough clothes for 1-2 weeks. Depending on the climate, your child may want to layer up in the morning and evenings. They will probably shed that sweatshirt very quickly as the day warms up, but it feels awful good in the morning for breakfast or around the campfire at night! Some camps have special dress up days, so you might need a special outfit or a costume for a themed event. Find out if there is a color war and pack handkerchiefs in those colors, so your child is ready. Mostly importantly, label everything! Even with labeling your child will come home with someone elses clothes and your kids clothes will end up somewhere else! After your child comes home from camp, pack away things in the duffle or trunk for next summer! (flash lights, fans, laundry bags, water bottles, old towels,) When next summer rolls around (and it comes quick! ) you will be that much more ahead of the game!
Bottom line is, CAMP is one of the BEST times of your child’s life, make packing easy, fun and part of the experience!!
What’s new for camps in 2011?
- Conditioning – With so many student athletes, some camps are building indoor gyms and employing conditioning directors to give their campers a “leg up” when returning to fall sports. Like never before, activities like Tae Bo, gymnastics, weight training, conditioning, and yoga have become common at camps. There are even summer trips abroad for older teen athletes, combining conditioning (like altitude training), with community service and cultural immersion.
- Animal Care – Whether it is with miniature horses, bunnies or alpacas, many camps now offer animal care as a standard activity. If a child wants more of a focus, there are Junior Vet enrichment courses on college campuses. Most camps, at the very least, have a camp animal, so that kids who are homesick for their family pet can seek the comfort of the camp dog or cat.
- A Camp within a Camp – You can find specialties such as culinary arts, fencing, science, foreign language, circus arts, horseback, tennis or golf within traditional camps. If your child wants to improve his or her tennis backhand or prepare to make the school basketball team, you should know that many camps offer extra sports instruction for a fee.
- Allergies & Food Prep – With the rise in nut allergies, some camps have moved to a peanut-free environment to eliminate the risk completely. In addition, it is not uncommon for camps to offer gluten-free diet options and accomodations for kids with Celiac’s disease or kosher observance.
Right about now, amidst the second onslaught of frigid weather, some of you are probably wondering what the redeeming qualities of winter are – especially those of you who don’t ski!
Good news in two words…”WINTER SALES!”
It is the perfect time to take advantage of the winter sales and start thinking about your child’s summer program. Time to grab those sweatshirts and sweatpants for chilly camp mornings; fleece and long sleeve shirts for evening summer activities; socks because you always need socks as the ones that leave for summer never come home! Don’t forget rain boots for that run of wet weather in July or hiking boots for the trek up Mt. Hood. For those going on summer trips with a winter theme – skiing/snowboarding- now is the perfect time to replace ski pants, under armor and thermals! Flannels are a must to keep nighttime warm and cozy. Check the outdoor adventure stores for equipment. Academic program? Look for discounted office supplies in local flyers.
Don’t forget the basics. Always check the clearance section for extra towels or a shower caddy. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER walk by batteries on sale. You can never have enough. Look for your favorite regular size shampoo and liquid body wash(liquid easier, less mess than bar soap and jumbo doesn’t fit in cubbies and is too heavy for back pack). Snail mail is still appreciated so keep your eye out for reduced cards and stationery.
Considering I single handedly supported sports stores when my own boys went off on their great summer adventures, I would suggest considering borrowing from friends. Think about it before you invest in equipment that may be only a passing fancy or, at best , a seasonal interest at camp, Some families’ garages are an endless pit of new and used equipment. Think green and recycle!
Winter isn’t that bad after all. Besides, who doesn’t love a bargain?
A camper at heart, Ann Kramer Fuchs has been a consultant with Tips on Trips and Camps in Westchester County, NY for the past ten years. She has been involved in the camping industry for 40 years.