Campers love mail! Here’s a suggestion that requires some preparation so get started.
Send your camper a manila envelope filled with “Open When Letters”. These are letters in envelopes to be opened in specific situations your child may encounter at sleepaway camp. This can be anything from Open When you’re missing the family dog to Open When the annoying girl in your cabin won’t stop singing “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine…” (Okay true story, that’s a 12 year old camp flashback for me). Write the Open When topic on the front of the envelope and give instructions to only open the envelope when it applies. No peeking ahead!
Here are some ideas: Open when…
- you need help falling asleep
- you wonder what I’m doing right now
- you feel homesick
- you feel like NOT coming home
- there’s a song stuck in your head
- you lose something important
- it’s your last day of camp.
The content can be something original or quotes or poems from the internet. You can also include a blank page with a self-addressed stamped envelope to encourage their response to your letter. The size of your letter is not important. What’s important is to get creative and have a little fun together.
Summer may seem far away, but before you know it, it will be June. Do you have a plan for your children?
NOW is the time to choose a summer overnight camp or teen program for your child or teen. How do you decide which one is right for you?
Tips on Trips and Camps summer program advisors are always available to talk by phone, but why not take it a step further and attend a Tips on Trips and Camps Fair?
EXPLORE programs . . . even if you’ve spoken to an advisor, you might find your child has an interest you never knew about or you could find a program that looks interesting for the following summer.
Have you done your research? Come to the fair and meet the directors. Ask your questions. Get a feel for the camp or teen program by meeting the director in person.
Most importantly, at these fairs you can talk to summer camp advisors who will listen to you and point you in the right direction. Take advantage of expert advice and make an educated decision. If you choose wisely, your child or teen will grow in independence and learn life skills that can last a lifetime!
Looking for the perfect stocking stuffer? Here are a few suggestions for your camper or traveler to stashin their carry on for loads of fun with their new friends! Perfect for bunk time or late night group activities back at the camp site.
Apples to Apples (To Go Edition) A great card game for 4 kids or more,middle school and older.
The object: To select the card from your hand that you think best describes a card played by the judge.
Bananagrams, a modern take on Scrabble for kids of all ages.
The object: To race against each other to build crossword grids.
Old Fashioned Jacks, remember sitting on the bunk floor and playing with your camp friends? Girls of all ages gravitate to this game.
The object: To use a rubber ball to pick up metal or plastic jacks scattered on the floor. The players in turn bounce the ball off the ground, pick up jacks, and then catch the ball before it bounces for a second time.
Mad Libs never get old. Perfect for all ages.
The object: A fill in the blanks game where the person offers a word to fill in the blanks in a story without knowing what the story is about. The results, when read aloud, are often comical or nonsensical.
Melissa and Doug Camp Bunk Box of Questions or Table Topics. This is perfect for camp age kids and would work in a non-food care package as well.
The object: A box full of conversation starters in a portable case will help kids get to know each other.
These are the answer to “What will I do without my phone?” Let the games begin!
Fall is my favorite time of year, with the darker mornings, the crisper air, and the nighttime that comes earlier. Fall is also about the start of something new – setting new goals for the “school year” and, for me, reorganizing my life to ready the new Tips on Trips and Camps season.
With school in full swing, it’s time to start thinking about Summer 2017 – not only for parents, but for me, too! As a Tips on Trips Advisor, fall is the time to start planning. This means getting ready for the Annual Tips on Trips and Camps meeting held over a 3-day period at the end of October.
These three days are when we advisors gear up for the new season! We hear from teen trip directors about what’s new in their programming for the coming summer. My colleagues and I exchange information about the camps and programs we visited during the past summer. We share our on-site reports, so that we can benefit from each others’ visits. Finally, we receive loads of evaluations from families whose children participated in all types of adventures this past summer.
For much of the three days while directors are presenting their new and exciting summer programs, I sit in awe wishing I could attend some of these programs myself! Needless to say, I return to my hometown of Los Angeles energized, with exciting and the most up-to-date information to share with families! I say it again, “fall is my favorite time of year!”
A Great Reason to Pick a Camp in Maine: The Ultimate Lobster Rolls
Maine is legendary for several things: sleep-away camps, moose sightings, L. L. Bean, state parks, blueberries, and, of course, the beautiful lakes and coastlines. However, the most famous aspect of Maine is, by far, lobster. They’re shipped far and wide, but they don’t get any fresher than the coasts and inlets of Maine.
Eating a full lobster, for an individual that has never done so, can be an intimidating task. The hard shell and sharp edges may very well turn away diners from one of the most enjoyable culinary experiences. Luckily, there is an easier way to eat this Maine delicacy.
Maine lobster rolls are made with a large helping of lobster and a light covering of mayonnaise on a toasted bun. There’s no fuss, no shell – just an enjoyable dining experience.
Maine is not only known for top lobster but also houses some of the top sleep-away camps in the USA. Get in touch with us for free information on camps. We can help you set up visiting for first time campers who wish to look early.
While visiting camps the Tips ladies love eating lobster 2 to 3 times a day. It never gets old!
Here are some of the best places to get Lobster in Maine (Tips ladies favorites)
Fisherman’s Catch Wells, Maine
The Lobster Pound Naples Maine – Lobster Pound Naples Maine
The Portland Lobster Company– Portland, Maine
Here are some of the best places to get LOBSTER ROLLS (Suggestions from one of our camp Directors, Jon Deren)
MC Perkins Cove– Ogunquit, ME
Red’s Eats – Wiscasset, ME
The Clam Shack – Kennebunkport, ME
Bob’s Clam Hut– Kittery, ME
Bite Into Maine– Cape Elizabeth, ME
Thurstons Lobster Pound – Bernard, ME
Gurnet Trading Co.– Brunswick, ME (Bowdoin College recommended!)
I often get calls this time of year from clients wondering if it’s too late to get into a camp or a summer overnight program. The answer is: No, it’s not too late!
There are always camps that fill up fast, but sometimes there’s flexibility within specific cabins and sessions. You need to be ready to move quickly, though! Additionally, if you’re from a state that does not have a strong presence, many directors will try to find room for your child. Having geographic diversity is important to them.
For teen programs, sometimes waiting to the last minute (May or June) will save you money. During this time of year, programs may be willing to give a financial incentive — reduce tuition if need be to fill a spot. Another advantage of a late enrollment would be that you’d be able to find out more specifics about the trip you’re interested in: male/female ratio, who the leaders are, the ages of the students enrolled and where the participants are from.
The bottom line is: it’s not too late to find a summer program. Spring Break is fast approaching! If you haven’t started looking yet, it’s definitely time to do so!
Give us a call to help you decide on the type of summer you’re looking for: Is it a camp? A community service program? An outdoor adventure program? Teen travel? Or does your child have a specialty they want to focus on?
As advisors with Tips on Trips and Camps, we are waiting to hear from you to help you plan the best summer ever!
With more than 7,000 overnight camps in the United States, parents can feel intimidated about choosing the one that’s right for their child.
Fortunately, there exists an industry ready to help: camp advisers.
“I know people who just send their kids wherever their kids’ friends have gone without investigating other options,” said Stephanie Vordick, a mother of two and an interior designer in Rockville, Maryland. “For me, I had expectations for sleep-away camp that I wanted met.”
Vordick wanted a four-week session at a non-denominational camp on a lake. It needed to have sports but not be too competitive, and it had to be “a camp that had tons of awesome traditions, but was welcoming to new kids,” she said.
With the help of a camp adviser, she found the program in New Hampshire that her son, now 14, attended for four summers.
My decision to try an adviser came when my teenage daughter said she wanted something more specialized than the camp she had attended the past two summers.
I began with a half-hour phone interview with Lois Deckelbaum of Philadelphia, one of 16 advisers working for the Baltimore-based Tips on Trips and Camps.
The 45-year-old company represents about 350 overnight camps and 250 other programs. They make site visits to about 125 per year.
That expertise cost me nothing. The advisers are paid a commission by the camp if a child enrolls.
Deckelbaum asked about our budget, my daughter’s interests, her personality, previous camp experience, what geographical area we would consider, urban or rural setting, allergies and dates, among other things.
A few days later, she emailed me information on four camps — in Vermont, Connecticut, New York City and France — as well as an endorsement of a camp I’d asked about but which isn’t represented by her company. She knew it by reputation and suggested I keep it in the running.
One of the camps on her list sounded promising, and Deckelbaum gave me the director’s contact information and a lengthy list of questions to consider. (Both Tips on Trips and Camps, and another advisory service called Student Camp and Trip Advisors, Inc., that represents 250 camps, have suggested questions posted on their websites.)
As I gathered information, I gained a clearer picture of what type of program would work best for my daughter and asked Deckelbaum for some additional camps. She suggested two more, one in Maine and the other in Iceland.
Nearly 30 percent of the 3,000 overnight and day camps accredited by the American Camping Association have worked with camp advisers, according to a 2014 American Camping Association survey. The advisers allow camps to market to a wider audience, said ACA Chief Executive Tom Holland.
He recommends that parents using camp advisers review their credentials and background to make sure they are a good fit for the family.
Alternatively, the ACA offers a searchable camp database on its website, though only two of the 10 programs I had looked at for my daughter came up in the search.
Although the Internet has made it easier for parents to research a wide variety of camps, it can be even harder to choose from the abundance of options.
Parents will say, “I’ve looked at 25 different programs, how can I tell which is a good program and would suit my child’s needs?” said Eve Eifler, owner of Tips on Trips and Camps.
“Camps have a specific kind of culture and feeling and attitude and inclusiveness, and those are very hard things to glean from a website. Because we send kids to the camps and we know the directors, we can help,” Eifler said.
Diane Borodkin, owner of Student Camp and Trip Advisors, a 40-year-old company based in suburban Boston, recommends that parents try to visit the camp, and meet with the camp director in person.
That wasn’t possible with the camp we favored, but I spoke with the director by phone, exchanged emails, and got the names of some former campers and their parents to contact. Our decision has been made, the deposit sent off and my daughter can’t wait to attend. I can only hope she’s this happy in that first letter home.
Thanksgiving has come and gone. We’ve all had our fair share of leftovers. Now, holiday shopping begins. Black Friday…Cyber Monday… where do we get the best deals? While we all brainstorm what gifts to buy, some of the best choices cannot be purchased by standing in line for hours, or by using a coupon code. Give your children a gift that will last them a lifetime.
A summer camp or teen program is an invaluable gift to give your child. Whether it’s through the friendships that are made at camp, engaging in community service, traveling to a faraway location, or a host of other choices, summer programs provide endless possibilities of growth and innumerable memories. Now is the perfect time to contact your local Tips on Trips and Camps advisor and discuss the options available.
Is your child already signed up for camp or a summer travel program? There are many gift options to consider this time of year that will continue your child’s excitement:
- A camp sweatshirt or other clothing item
- A camp blanket for those chilly nights
- Travel accessories (toiletry kit, duffle bag)
- Fun stationery
- New water bottles or fans
Many camps have links on their websites to companies who sell items specifically for that camp. Go online and check it out. You’ll find fun options.
If you have not yet decided on a summer experience, the holidays are the perfect time for you to look at summer programs with your child. What better gift . . . than the gift of an amazing summer experience!
Often times, parents come to our advisory service too late in the season to find the perfect summer experience for their child. In many cases, the only session in which their child can participate – nestled between baseball season, the family vacation and school starting – is already filled up.
The best way to avoid this situation is to plan summer early. Done right, the process of finding the right camp can take an entire year’s worth of research, but the reward is great. When your neighbors are stressing out about what their child will be doing next summer, you will be sitting pretty with your child already enrolled!
One very helpful thing to do is plan a visit to see camps in action. All camps gladly receive guests, if you schedule an appointment. Most camps are located in beautiful areas near state parks or resort areas, so these visits can be fun for the whole family. You could even plan your family’s vacation at a camp and take advantage of a family weekend. These visits can help your child acclimate to the environment of the camp and make the decision to leave home a lot less scary. And, your first-hand observations of the facilities, the activities or the dining hall routine can help you know if this would be the right place for your child!
If you plan early and you have determined which camp suits your child, you can take advantage of early bird discounts. These discounts usually hold the cost of camp down to the previous year’s tuition or take several hundred dollars off the tuition price.
Some parents might not have the time to research camps on their own. With over 11,000 camps in the United States, it is important to come up with a list of questions to guide you. By doing so, you can narrow the possibilities to a manageable few. Then it is helpful to meet with directors, attend a camp fair, and/or enlist the advice of a summer program advisor.
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. You know your child and we know the camps. Together, we can find the RIGHT match.