Camp brings folks from near and far together, creating lasting memories and friendships! It’s no secret. If you’re a camp parent, we’re sure you hear stories of your children’s bunkmates and how close they become to those around them at this home away from home. And ideal as it may seem, the right camp for your child probably isn’t in your backyard. So, gather around the campfire as we explore the process of finding your child’s perfect summer camp!
Interests & Hobbies
Parents, we’re sure you try and keep up with all your child’s interests. Whether that be sports, creative arts, dancing, and even video games, you do your best to encourage them in their hobbies and endeavors. When you’re looking for camps, add one of your child’s interests to your search. (Summer Camps in New York VS. Sports Camps in New York) If you have a specific location in mind, don’t be afraid to further narrow it down. (Girls Sports Camps near Brant Lake, NY) A lot of these camps have brochures they’ll mail you to learn more about their camp and even offer tours to potential future campers and their families.
Reports from The American Camp Association (ACA) show that throughout the US, there are over 12,000 summer camps (7,000 overnight and 5,000 day camps) in operation serving more than 11 million children and adults every year. When it comes down to choosing the best location for your child, it’s important to consider a few items.
Does this camp offer programs around my child’s interests and hobbies?
If your child has an interest in sailing, northeastern states such as Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, or Maine may be a good place to look.
If your child has an interest in coding or robotics, check into areas with universities offering day camps with hands-on courses.
Are there trips or locations around this camp I’d like my child to experience?
A trip program can be an essential component of some summer camp experiences. From overnight canoe journeys to whitewater rafting, beach getaways to amusement park adventures, trips could influence your choice in location. If you believe trips may be beneficial to your child’s experience away from home, ask potential summer camps about their trip programs.
Parents, when we’re speaking about distance, we’re talking about not only the physical miles but also your child’s emotional disconnect from their typical environment.
How should my child get to camp?
Planes, trains, and automobiles! When we think of classic summer camps, we all can’t help but envision the buses on arrival day. Pulling up with some rowdy returners and other shy new faces. This has been true from the beginning and remains true to this day. Many camps offer bus pickups from a collective meeting place usually in an area with a large camper population. Parents wish their children well as they nervously shuffle, or hastily hustle, onto the buses met by enthusiastic counselors. During these bus pickups, smaller camp vans are heading to airports near and far where counselors greet their happy campers right at the gate. As buses and vans begin arriving at camp, parents pull up greeted by camp counselors juggling suitcases and sleeping bags trying to introduce themselves. Their camp staff shirt crisp and new, as they extend an arm and welcoming smile. Arrival day is definitely one of the best days of camp. A day where campers new and old spark interest in their surroundings and ignite the grounds with enthusiastic optimism. Returners hug those they’ve missed throughout the year welcoming new faces into their crowd hoping to share this incredible place they call home away from home.
My child is so far from home, what if they get homesick?
A good place to start when discussing homesickness is the knowledge that everyone experiences some level of missing home throughout their time away at camp. It could be just for a moment during breakfast with their bunk, a few days at the start of camp, or halfway through the session after parents visiting day or phone call. These feelings of longing for familiarity are completely natural and more common than most parents expect. Physical miles tend to not contribute to the level of homesickness a child may experience, nor does gender. All children experience homesickness at the same rate. Counselors are trained on noticing symptoms of homesickness and how they can help campers make the most out of their time at camp. If you’re worried your child may experience homesickness while away at camp, speak with potential camps about their approach to the topic.
If you’re interested in reading a more in-depth exploration of this concept, we recommend Homesick and Happy: How Time Away from Parents Can Help a Child Grow by Michael Thompson, PhD. This book insightfully outlines the positive impact of summer camp and time away from home can have on your child.
J. Humble on Camp Location and Distance:
Parents ask me all the time. “Why do you travel so far to camp every summer? Aren’t there summer camps everywhere?” Just like some campers, it may take a few camps to find which one truly fits for me as a staff member. And that’s alright. Do you try on one type of shoe in the store and say “yup, this is the one for me”? Of course not, that would be silly. You try on some different styles and see which one works best for your needs. My main advice would be to not limit your child’s summer camp experience with a mile marker. Kids can travel, and camps understand the anxiety that comes along with that, assisting parents every step of the way. When you come across a camp that you believe may be a good fit for your child, I recommend reaching out by phone first, then following up with email. Camp professionals love speaking about camp, especially if it’s their camp. Ask them what an average day at camp may look like, some of the programs they offer, and maybe even inquire about one of your child’s interests.
We’re hoping this article sheds light on some questions surrounding new camp parents when deciding where to send their children to camp. Remember that camp is just a place, a physical location. It’s not the volleyball court, the pool, the soccer fields, or the dining hall. What truly makes camp special are the people that choose to inhabit these spaces and how they create beautiful, lasting memories. If you haven’t already, find us on your favorite social media platform. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram: @BunkDiscussions. Thank you for being here!
Your unofficial co-counselor,