Summer camp options abound
Summer camp is a beloved tradition in many families. Many parents of young children fondly recall spending their summers at summer camp, where they made lifelong friends and learned the finer points of roasting marshmallows and competing in three-legged sack races.
Parents looking for the right summer camp for their kids will soon discover there are various types of summer camps, each offering youngsters something different. The following are some of the summer camp options parents can expect to encounter as they search for the right camper for their kids.
Day camps are not overnight camps, which means kids will return home each night rather than sleep over at camp. Day camps typically offer many of the activities people have come to associate with camps, including crafts, sports and even day-trips to experience local culture or attractions. Many day camps are co-ed, and counselors typically live within the community.
Faith-based camps offer many of the same activities as more traditional summer camps, but do so while simultaneously offering campers the opportunity to celebrate and further explore their religious beliefs. Some faith-based camps may focus heavily on religion, incorporating faith into daily camp activities, while others may be more subtle with regard to integrating religious beliefs and lessons into camp activities.
Some summer camps focus on a particular sport, catering to young athletes who want to further develop their athletic talents. Sports camps may feature guest lectures and lessons from notable local athletes and coaches, while some camps may provide instruction from current and/or former professional athletes. Some sports camps are overnight, while others are day camps.
Family camps are opportunities for the whole family to enjoy the summer camp experience. Family camps typically tailor their activities around tasks families can complete together, with counselors providing assistance when it’s needed. Family camps may be faith-based or secular, and families typically stay overnight, sleeping in facilities on the campsites or in lodging away from home.
Special needs camps
Parents of children with special needs can still send their kids to summer camp, as there are many camps that cater to such youngsters. Special needs camps may cater to campers who are blind, deaf, learning disabled, or mentally or physically disabled. Staff at special needs camps typically undergoes extensive training, which helps to calm some of the fears parents may have about leaving their special needs children at camp. Facilities at special needs camps are often built to accommodate the specific needs of campers.
It’s not easy being green
Whether a child makes his home in the heart of the city or the fields of the heartland, daily life can make getting “back to nature” hard for any family. Yet experiencing the outdoors helps children gain enhanced abilities to learn, lead, and experience contentment, as well as gain a lifelong interest in caring for planet earth.
Parents who want to be sure their kids know a toad from a frog and a catfish from a crawfish don’t need to go it alone. Camp programs are among the very best ways for children to get to know first-hand a very important family member — Mother Nature.
Plants and animals live in communities that meet their special needs, and are connected through a “web of life.” To make good decisions, we need to be honest about how our choices will affect the other living things around us. The choices we make now can affect the future of everything we care about.
The building materials of life (air, water, soil) are used over and over again. Conservation doesn’t mean just using less; it means learning to respect how natural systems work, and then working with them. It’s the “circle of life.”
Spending time in the outdoors can bring people closer to God, closer to each other, and closer to the beautiful natural world. It can relieve stress, improve health, and it results in people learning to care. When we care, we act differently. We’re in charge of our own actions first, which can positively change our family, our community, and our nation.
The decisions we make everyday have lasting consequences. The more we understand how things work, the wiser we can be in our decisions. We can all learn to reduce, reuse, and recycle our natural resources. When we understand the responsibility we have to each other, and to the living things around us, we can rethink old problems and create wonderful new solutions!
The sun is the source of energy for all living things. Green plants (Producers) turn some of that energy into food, some of which is then used by animals (Consumers); which can eventually be broken down for use again (by Decomposers). We also harvest the sun’s energy when we use solar, wind, and water power, and when we use fossil fuels like gas, oil, and coal.
—YMCA Outdoor Education
Originally printed in CAMP Magazine. Reprinted with permission of the American Camp Association © 2006 American Camping Association, Inc.
The American Camp Association® (ACA) is a national organization; 10,000 members strong, it is actively working with over 2,700 camps. ACA is committed to collaborating with those who believe in quality camp and outdoor experiences for children, youth, and adults. ACA provides advocacy and evidence-based education and professional development, and is the only national accrediting body for the organized camp experience. For more information, visit www.ACAcamps.org.
The bottom line about camp costs
Parents know that camp is an experience that will last a lifetime. However, they may worry about the cost, especially if there is more than one camp-aged child in the house. The good news for parents is that there is a camp for just about every budget. While fees to attend camp vary, they can range from $75 to over $650 per week for American Camp Association-accredited resident and day camps.
Parents may also reduce the costs by asking the right questions. When talking with the camp director, parents should ask the following:
- What is the refund policy?
Refund policies vary greatly from camp to camp. Some refund for illness only, some will give a total refund prior to certain date, and some don not refund at all. Most camps will ask for a small non-refundable deposit at the time of application, which may or may not go toward the cost of tuition. It is important to know the refund policy before you send any money.
- Is there financial assistance available?
Many camps offer camperships, which is a partial or total subsidy of the tuition costs, but parents need to ask if they are available. Although they are usually awarded based on need, don not assume that you make too much to qualify. It is important to apply early.
- What is included in the tuition?
Day camps will typically include transportation as part of their tuition. Resident camps may offer limited transportation, such as a van ride from a major local train station. Other amenities to ask about are fees for special programs and trips, laundry service, camp canteen, special equipment that is required and service organization membership. Also, ask the camp director if it is appropriate to send spending money with your child.
- Are special discounts available?
Often, camps will offer special discounts for such things as early registration, full-season enrollment, and enrollment of multiple family members. If more than one special discount applies, parents may only be able to take advantage of one.
Founded in 1910, the American Camp Association is a national community of camp professionals and is dedicated to enriching the lives of children and adults through the camp experience. The ACA camp database provides parents with many ways to find the ideal ACA-accredited camp. For more information, visit ACA’s family-dedicated Web site, www.CampParents.org.
Reprinted with permission of the American Camp Association © 2005 American Camping Association, Inc.