It doesn’t have to be summer for children who have attended the same camp to get together. In fact, during the so-called “off-season” (when camp is not in session), many summer camps will hold reunions to allow kids a chance to catch up with one another in a fun setting.
Adults might be most familiar with high school reunions – which occur once every five or ten years (long past being a student); however, annual camp reunions or other related social gatherings are often geared to kids who have attended camp the previous summer and perhaps plan on going back for the next. This is not to say there aren’t long-term camp alumni reunions geared mainly toward adults who attended camp long ago (which we will address reunions of this type in another article).
While some day camps will hold off-season reunions or other social gatherings, residential camps will typically be most apt to promote and host such events given the nature of an overnight camp being more of a continuous “home away from home” where campers and counselors may have spent upwards of 8 weeks together as an extended family. Likewise, residential camps may attract campers from all over the country (or world), whereas campers who attend day camps typically live in the same or adjacent neighborhoods and see one another regularly in school during off-season. Nonetheless, day camp reunions provide an opportunity for kids who may have spent considerable time together during the course of the summer to assemble in the context of their “camp family” which shares a common bond away from school.
Although it varies from camp to camp, reunions may incorporate: a meal or snacks (such as an ice cream social), a photo slideshow or short video, as well as fun games, activities and camp traditions which allow campers to interact with one another and re-establish bonds created during the course of the previous summer. Sometimes small prizes, mementos, and other memorabilia are awarded during reunions to reflect achievements. Often times, previous or future counselors who live the area where the reunion takes place may attend the event. Most of all, reunions are meant to be a shared fun experience for campers while camp is not in session.
It is also possible to see an “open house” run in conjunction with an annual reunion to allow future or prospective campers to gain a first hand experience of the social fabric which binds the camp community together.
If a residential camp has several different main locations across the country where campers reside, there might be several reunions located in different cities. Not all camps hold reunions, so you might want to contact your camp’s director to inquire as to whether your camp holds a reunion or any other sort of off-season gathering; however, if they do, chances are you’ll be informed of the date, location, and other pertinent details.
There are invariably a number of different locations your camp might have information published about itself on the internet: on one extreme, there is your camp’s official website where you have complete autonomy and control. On the other extreme, there are locations where information might appear about your camp which is completely beyond your control … such as user submitted review sites. Somewhere in the middle of these extremes, your camp might be listed within several specialty niche directories (i.e. campchannel.com, camppage.com, etc.). You may also find articles about your camp which appear inside online newspapers, magazines, and trade publications. It is possible you might not even be aware of all the various nooks and crannies information has surfaced on the web about your camp. In some cases, you might be able to easily update such information; however, in other instances you might be left with very little recourse.
The purpose of this article is to focus on sites which are typically under your control to some extent: in particular, web directories for summer camps. Given that information on the web can “live forever”, you might come across info about your camp on a directory site which is severely outdated or perhaps no longer applicable / relevant to your camp’s current program (i.e. – dates, rates, programs, etc.). Most camp directories will likely seek to maintain accurate information about all of it’s member camps, so there is in all likelihood a method provided to update your camp’s individual listing.
There is normally a link found on most camp directories specifically intended for Camp Directors which will typically provide details about how to update your listing. It is important to keep in mind that specialized camp directories operate differently in so far as how they’re setup in terms of: data structure, listing options, what information can be included within the listing, how specific fields are displayed, limits on the number of selections which can be denoted, what information can be displayed, whether multi-media elements can be included, free or paid, etc. So, while you might have a desire to simply email a fact sheet with all of your marketing material to all directories in hopes they’ll simply make the necessary modifications for you, it is important to understand that most directories don’t process info in such a way and more than likely will ask that you follow their specific procedure. So, it is ultimately up to you, as an authorized representative of your camp, to visit each directory individually in order to submit your information and be sure it is included appropriately according to the parameters of the respective website’s “way of doing things”.
For this reason (and others), it is recommended that you start a spreadsheet of all directory locations your camp might be listed and include the following columns (at a minimum):
- Directory Name
- Web Address of Directory
- Date of Last Update (of your listing)
- Method or Location To Update (and any login credentials)
- Listed Contact Name (of camp representative)
- Listed Email Address (of camp)
- Date of Any Photos or Logo (that appear within your listing)
- Camp Listing URL (as it appears within directory)
- Directory Email Address (for support)
- Special Restrictions, Allowances, General Notes
- Free or Paid
If you maintain a paid listing, you may also want to also include columns for:
- Start of Term
- End of Term
- Type of Listing
- Renewal Terms
Obviously, there are many other columns you can opt to include which might assist you in managing your camp’s online presence within the directory space.
While you might be aware of several directory sites under which your camp appears, it is very possible there might be some which you are unaware. To help discover sites which might not be readily apparent, it is suggested that you perform at least a minimal “audit” to determine the extent to which information associated with your camp might be present on the web. Even spending an hour or two searching your camp’s exact name on your favorite search engine will likely reveal much useful information. TIP: if your camp’s actual name is somewhat generic (i.e. “Volleyball Camp”), it might be necessary to include a more specific identifier in your audit searches such as the city your camp resides (i.e. “Volleyball Camp Portland, OR”) in order to be able to better reveal information on the web about your camp.
In the course of your audit, try to harvest and include within your spreadsheet as much information as possible under the suggested column names listed above. It is up to you whether you’d like to update your directory listings “as you go”, or simply compile the information at first then go back and address each directory individually. Regardless, having this consolidated information will assist you in the near term and ultimately into the future … since invariably there will be a minimum of SOME information which changes about your camp which will need to be updated in subsequent seasons. Similarly, having such a spreadsheet to hand off to a new camp director can prove to be an invaluable peice of informatin in the case of staff turnover within your camp.
While looking through camp directory sites, one very common theme you might encounter is the case of a previous camp director or staff member having used their contact information – especially, their specific email address within your listing. Obviously, situations will vary from camp to camp; however, the summer camp market in general does reflect a relatively moderate to high degree of turnover at the senior staff level over the long term. So, it’s very possible you may have inherited the task of updating 6-12 different directory sites which currently reflect the old director’s email and other contact information. This is actually a relatively common issue if the camp or respective staff member made it a policy to utilize an individual’s email address (email@example.com) vs. that of “role” email address (firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, etc.). The use of a “role” email address can reduce a lot of such issues related to turnover … since you can simply leave “email@example.com” in place throughout the web and simply internally route all email destined to firstname.lastname@example.org -> email@example.com (or whomever if Jane no longer works at camp in the future).
Another common issue relates to replacing an antiquated logo, video clips, or photos which might display campers or staff from several years ago (who are now much older), or who might be engaged in activities which are no longer offered or perhaps under a different set of safety regulations which might now require more stringent safeguards. So, it is important to keep track of your camp’s images and videos which appear on directories and be sure to evaluate their present day suitability and/or effectiveness.
While there are certainly many individual issues, perhaps the most important aspect of maintaining an organized and consolidated inventory of your camp’s presence on directory sites is ultimately being able to present camp families with accurate, up-to-date, and non-conflicting information about your camp.
If you haven’t already done so, please take a few minutes to update your camp’s listing on the Camp Channel.
Being a summer camp counselor can be a very rewarding experience for young adults which pays off numerous intangible dividends on many fronts for both counselors and campers alike; however, the question of what form and level of compensation one should expect from a summer camp job can vary tremendously across different situations and circumstances.
At one end of the spectrum, some camps – such as some special needs programs – may rely entirely upon volunteers or interns to comprise the bulk of their staff and perhaps only provide “room and board”. On the other side of the coin, a year round camp director position at a large private facility may require a substantial and full time investment along with a very high level of responsibility; which might entail signficant monetary compensation along with a full benefits package.
While the above extremes do exist, the compensation levels for the majority of camp jobs fall somewhere in the middle and typically depend upon several factors such as:
- Type of Position
- Level of Authority
- Number of Years at a Camp
- Level of Prior Experience: Qualifications, Certifications, Past Experience
- Demand for particular positions
- Length of Camp Session(s)
- Profile of Camp Program
As a general activity counselor, one’s pay scale is typically determined by one’s prior experience or number of years at a given camp. While it might be viewed as a “entry level position”, general camp counselors are the backbone of any given camp’s operations in so far as direct interactions with campers.
Kitchen staff, office, and facility maintenance positions are all necessary components of many camp operations and are essential to allowing the overall system to function smoothly in many respects. It is important to distinguish levels of responsibility among such positions in so far as compensation expectations. For example, an individual who’s duties are confined to washing dishes and tables in the mess hall should expect to receive less pay vs. the head cook/chef who’s responsibilities might include selecting, ordering, and preparing food for the entire camp. There can be similar distinctions within both office and maintenance departments of a camp. By the same token, if you have acquired a great deal of experience regarding any particular facet, you might be rewarded with a higher level of compensation.
Many residential camps will have a registered nurse on the premises and some will have a doctor. Since the level of experience and qualifications for either of these positions is relatively high compared to most other positions, the relative pay scale will typically reflect such a distinction. With respect to doctors, some camps may try to offer individuals the ability to bring their families up to camp for an extended amount of time as part of a compensation package.
In a similar light, other qualified speciality positions such as certified Lifeguards, Horseback Riding Instructors, Musicians, Sailing Instructors, Computer Instructors, etc. also have specific areas of expertise and unique qualifications which might be in high demand for a particular summer camp situation. Some camps offer certification training; however, it is important to learn whether or not you will be responbible for payment for any given course you might elect to take … as some camps will foot the bill and others will not necessarily.
Laundry facilities are often made available as well, but it is important to inquire about particulars.
Room and board are also typically factored into the overall compensation package. Residential camps typically provide staff with some form of sleeping arrangements as well as three meals a day. While day camps normally do not provide housing for counselors, they often provide at least lunch.
The use of camp facilities can also be considered a benefit. Some camps might allow counselors the ability to water-ski, sail, and participate in other camp related activities on their days off if it does not interfere with the regular day-to-day operations of camp and campers.
Transportation to and from camp depends a lot upon the particular nature of the camp. Day camps require counselors and staff to commute to and from camp on a daily basis. Depending upon one’s particular position, one might be able (or required) to ride the bus and assist with supervision of children who are being picked up and dropped off to and from camp. On the other hand, you might need to arrange for transportation independently.
Time off is another factor to consider. It is important to understand the allocation of time off – especially at a residential camp – prior to committing to a full summer. Some camps might offer a single day per week, while others might not have any time available beyond an hour here or there during the days/nights.
Pre-camp is often a required training period prior to camp as well as post camp – the period directly after camp sessions end where facilities and equipment are “broken down” and put away – might also be factored into the equation. If you are expected to appear at camp for duties prior to or after the primary camp session, your compensation may or may not reflect your time investment during these periods.
So, at this point you might be wondering about the actual wages you might be able to earn at a summer camp? It is difficult to answer this question with any sort of consistency or authority given the great number of different camp job situations which exist. However, to give you a very broad and general idea about what to possibly expect regarding direct wages, we’ve compiled some data from the Camp Channel Job Board with respect to reported direct monetary wages for the summer of 2013:
- the average (mean) range was $1443 – $2207
- the highest wage offered was $6,000
It is important to note the data regarding wages above were solicited by asking camp directors to report the lowest and highest wages for “an entire camp season”. Since the length of a season can vary greatly among camps (typically from one to eight weeks), the average range does not reflect a consistent unit of time and should be interpreted as only a very loose approximation to give you an idea of direct monetary compensation. Along the same lines, it is also difficult to flush out the various other forms of non-monetary benefits (as noted above) which might also be included in a compensation package in so far as being able to compare “apples to apples” of an overall compensation package.
Bonuses are always possible, but unless explicitly detailed in your work agreement should always be looked upon as an unexpected additional income.
Given the wide variety of different types of summer camp jobs, it is important to inquire with the camp director as to the particulars of your situation.
Campers love to receive letters from home & letter writing has long been a very popular form of communication used by campers to send and receive information from family and friends while at a sleepover camp. In recent years, many camps now offer the ability for parents, family, and friends to send a “one way” email – which is in turn printed and given to a camper during the course of the regular mail call.
Every camp is different, so it is important to obtain the specific details about an “Email A Camper” service your camp might offer — from either the official website or a direct inquiry to the camp director or staff member. Depending upon how an “email a camper” system has been setup, it is possible there might be a nominal fee associated with sending email messages … since there are costs involved in so far as setting up the system, the actual printing (paper, toner, etc.), and time involved by staff.
It is possible you might need to register for an account online or receive a pre-approval code allowing you to submit an email via a designated form — linked directly from the camp’s website. Some camp programs might have a particular direct email address established for one-way communication whereby the camp will only receive, print, and distribute emails to campers; however, campers are typically unable to reply via email … as most traditional residential camps (but not all) try to encourage activities other than being tethered to electronic devices 24×7.
Camps might have a particular day and time set as a designated “cut-off” in order for messages to be delivered to campers by the pre-determined mail call. It is important to understand the particular protocol being used by your camp if you’d like to insure emails are received in a timely fashion. Due to both time and other constraints, some camps might place restrictions on the frequency of emails you’re allowed to send, such as one per day.
It is important to note that printed emails are typically viewed by staff to some extent in the course of being printed and ultimately their delivery should not be considered confidential.
One way email service may also include staff members as well. Day camps and “travel camps” typically do not offer such services due to the particular nature of the programs.
If your camp does not offer an email service, don’t dispair the U.S. Postal Service is still in operation and is capable of delivering letters the old fashioned way — there is always something special with respect to a hand written letter which has the easily recognized handwritting of a loved one or close friend!
At it’s very essence, football is a highly competitive team sport which incorporates individual physical strength, agility, speed, coordination; all in the context of an integrated team dynamic which relies upon a coordinated effort in the context of an overall strategy or “game plan”.
Summer camps which focus exclusively on the sport of football will invariably carry over such a competitive undertone to some extent and may vary in their approach to the sport in terms of a camp program.
Although it can vary, many football camps allow campers as young as 6 or 7 and as old as 18 years of age. When there is a wide variation of ages, campers are normally broken up into age appropriate groups.
A few basic questions to consider when choosing a football camp:
- Are you seeking a football camp which offers full contact or non-contact?
- Are you interested in attending a residential football camp (sleepover), or do you plan to commute from home on a daily basis? The latter requires you to live within driving distance of the camp facilities; however, you can attend a sleepover camp in just about any location … although such programs typically involve added expenses such as transportation, room & board, and more supervision by counselors or staff.
- How long of a session(s) throughout the summer are you seeking to spend at a football camp? Many football camps offer single week sessions; however, there is no across the board rule about any sort of standard session length. You might find some programs which offer an abbreviated session over a long weekend, while others are multiple weeks in duration. It really depends upon the particular program. If you are seeking to attend multiple sessions at the same camp, you may wish to ask about the nature of the different sessions and whether they differ substantially in programming or even if there’s a “progression” of sessions where it’s necessary to have taken Session 1 to advance to Session 2.
- Most importantly, you may wish to evaluate the general nature and scope of any given football program which is of interest to you in light of your personal goals and objectives. Some football camps are extremely competitive and geared toward players who have aspirations to not only improve their current skills, but to advance and continue playing at the collegiate level and perhaps beyond. Other programs – while still competitive in their basic nature – might be a bit more rounded in their approach.
While most football camp programs will include some degree of on field instruction with respect to either offense skills or defensive skills, they may differ in regard to the specific area of focus. Some football camps might be specifically billed as a “quarterback camp”, while others might include a wider focus of “passing & receiving”. Likewise, there are kicking & punting camps as well as programs tailored specifically to being a lineman. Just as there are programs which focus on position specific skills, there are also a great number of football camps which cover all positions and skills across the entire gridiron.
Most programs will include drills, scrimmages, game play, and on field instruction. Some may get into great depth about strategy and team play – depending upon the particular program. Similarly, fitness, strengthening, and agility training may also be components of an overall program to one degree or another. It is important to inquire with the director about the amount of time allocated to any given facet which might be of interest to you, since activities and the time dedicated to such can vary greatly from camp to camp.
Some programs are geared for athletes who have aspirations of playing football at the college level and may offer the opportunity for recruiting connections. Likewise, many colleges and universities offer football camps which are affiliated with their school or coaching staff. Some professional football players and coaches run camps and may even take a daily role or make special appearances.
In your quest to find the best football camp for your interests, you may also find there are also many “general sports camps” and other non-specific football camps which offer very strong football programs while also offering other sports or activities – providing a bit more variety.
Ultimately, most football camps will seek to offer a general environment which allows campers to learn about teamwork, self-discipline, and to simply have fun playing football … regardless of the level of competitiveness.
Since there a great number and wide variety programs offered, you may wish to search the Camp Channel for a football camp which is of interest to you.
Typically, a camper is responsible for bringing their own helmet, mouth piece, cleats, as well as other clothing items; however, it is important to ask the director about what particular equipment a camper will be responsible for bringing along and which will be furnished. Often there is list provided by the program.
Summer is quickly approaching and many people already have their summer plans in place with respect to both employment and recreation. If you’ve found yourself procrastinating or perhaps circumstance has dealt you a joker from the deck, rest assured it’s not too late to find a fun and rewarding summer camp staff position.
While Memorial Day is often considered the unofficial start to the summer, most residential summer camps don’t get underway until the second or third week of June.
It is important to understand that most camp directors have started to change their primary focus of recruiting campers and hiring staff to the chores of actually setting up the day-to-day operations of camp. This can be an extremely significant undertaking; often encompassing a broad range of activities such as lining up transportation, food deliveries, basic utilities, etc. in addition to setting up essential facilities which might require significant maintenance after having been packed away for the winter.
Although most directors will likely be in a “high gear multi-tasking mode” at the moment, it is certainly possible there are still a few positions which need to be filled. Time permitting, most directors will be open to correspond with interested and qualified candidates; however, you might find yourself playing phone tag or perhaps trying to communicate with a director who is busy “in the field” engaged with other individuals or contending with important tasks at hand. Don’t let any of this discourage you, since it is a very typical circumstance with summer fast approaching.
In fact, conveying a respectful understanding of a director’s current hectic situation might help to illustrate you are considerate and a good team player. If you do happen to have an initial conversation of any length, it is important to be concise, on target, and efficient in communicating information about yourself … while gathering any information related to all possible work situations which are currently available.
In all likelihood, the majority of a camp’s positions have already been earmarked for other individuals; however, there might be a few remaining positions still available. It is also possible the director might have some reservations regarding the suitability of some of the existing staff members they’ve selected for particular positions. In such a case, if you’re truly an exceptionally qualified candidate for a particular position, it’s possible the director might hire you and re-assign the original individual to another position. This sort of re-shuffle scenario is ultimately a matter of chance and is not really something which you can anticipate or “try for” – other than to confidently express your qualifications and areas of expertise from the outset.
On the other hand, zeroing in on what might be the few remaining positions available is something which can be more actively addressed by an interested applicant for a summer camp job. You might already be aware of the remaining positions available, or a director may have simply rattled them off during the course of an initial conversation. Often at this stage of the season, and depending upon the particular nature the camp program, the remaining positions are typically those which require a relatively high degree or specialized set of qualifications (i.e. Nurse, Lifeguard, etc.), or positions which aren’t as “popular” (i.e. Office, Maintenance, Kitchen, etc.).
If you happen to be highly qualified in a particular niche or skill set, you might be in luck with respect to your immediate first choice in a camp; however, if your skills or expertise are in high demand, then you might also do well to seek out such a specific summer staff position by widening your search for summer camp jobs across a much wider spectrum of camps – in both type and location … especially if you have the ability to pick up and move for the summer.
If you don’t happen to posses expertise which is in high demand, yet still have an interest to work at a camp in some capacity, it never hurts to inquire about any openings.
If none of your “first choice” positions are available at a camp you’ve contacted, you can always look to another camp which might still be hiring or inquire to see if the camp has a “wait list” for particular positions. You might have luck at very large camps which often hire a great number of staff members in order to maintain a low camper to counselor ratio.
Alternatively, you may wish to consider pursuing any available staff position which you feel you’re qualified and have at least some level of genuine interest. While you might have preferred another position or role, it is important to understand that it is relatively late in the season & you won’t be afforded the same amount of choices had you embarked upon your quest earlier in the year. If you are flexible and maintain a positive attitude, you may find yourself working in a role which is rewarding in ways you hadn’t initially considered – aside from simply having fun and being able to make ends meet for the summer.
By accepting literally any position at a summer camp (whether it’s a general camp counselor, kitchen staff, nurse, etc), you will have effectively entered their extended “camp family” … which has it’s own intangible rewards, and may also allow you to more easily move to an alternate position of your liking in the future after having demonstrated a solid work ethic and general love of the camp community and the bonds it creates.
To get started on your summer camp job search, try visiting the Camp Channel’s Camp Jobs section.
So you know that you or your child is very much interested in attending a music camp this summer, but might be asking yourself “How do I find the right program?”
Generally speaking, music camps are typically non-competitive and often take place in beautiful natural settings, as well as within urban environments – including Colleges/Universities and other more specialized “Schools of Music”. Many music camps are operated by professional instructors and sometimes will feature well known musicians to offer workshops and assist in courses.
Given the wide variety of musical genres, there likewise exists a broad selection of different types of music camps: classical, jazz, blues, rock, funk, hip-hop, bluegrass, choir, gospel, traditional “band camp”, and “jam camps” to name a few broad categories. Some programs may focus on a single style or genre of music, while others may offer a much broader program offering which includes a wide variety of musical genres. Similarly, a music camp might be dedicated entirely to a particular instrument (i.e. guitar, piano, drums, vocals, etc.) or to a family of instruments (i.e. strings, brass, percussion, etc.).
There are also differences in programming related to activities other than music which ought to be considered. At some music camps, the entire summer curriculum might be dedicated almost exclusively to music, while other camps may offer a much more general activity selection – while still maintaining music as a focal point. Along these lines, some music programs may “pair” music with another major activity set such as “Music and Dance”, “Music and Arts”, “Music and Sports”, “Music and Farming”, etc.
Since all camps are different, it is important to ask the director regarding genres, instruments, as well as the amount of time allocated to music in relation to other activities; however, it is ultimately up to you as a prospective camper and parent to decide what sort of program profile is most suitable for your goals, as well as your general nature, in terms of how you’d like to spend your time. Some individuals are focused on a specific style of music and or instrument, while others might be interested in exploring a greater range of possibilities. While some might be able to “live and breath music 24 hours a day”, others might benefit more from taking a “set break” every now and again throughout the course of the day and participate in an activity other than music (i.e. swimming, sports, computers, field trips, etc.) – which may allow one come back to music more invigorated/energized and perhaps with a different perspective.
Regardless of the extent to which some music camps might integrate non-musical; activities, there are also major differences with respect to how any given camp may approach the general topic of music. Some programs may focus more upon learning musical theory in a traditional manner and others may emphasize practice, performance, and learning improvisational techniques and methods to a greater extent. Along these lines, it may help if you or your child evaluates the importance of some of these topics, such as:
- Learning music theory
- Instruction and workshops on technique and effective practice regimens
- Songwriting, arrangement, and composition
- Playing an instrument by oneself (solo) or with others (in a band)
- Learning about live sound / engineering
- Recording audio tracks in a studio
- Creation & recording of music videos
- Live performance
Another aspect to consider is that of session length, which is often one or two weeks in duration; however, some programs may last all summer long and might be comprised of a single 4 or 8 week session, while other programs may string together multiple single or two week sessions in a sequence. Depending upon the particular camp, some session offerings are “linear & progressive” and might require having taken a pre-requisite(s) or the necessary skill level to advance to the next session in a sequence, while others are more of a “stand alone” nature and can be taken regardless of having attended any other related sessions.
A big question to consider is whether you’re seeking to attend a resident (sleepaway) music camp or a day camp? Residential camps can be a little bit more expensive than day camps … since room and board, as well as more extensive programming & supervision are required. While it could be argued that a residential music camp program might provide a more immersive experience, a day camp which is attended on a regular basis may also provide sufficient exposure for learning, fun, and flexibility regarding other plans for the summer. However, one of the major limitations regarding a day camp is that it needs to be located within relative close proximity to one’s home in order to be able to commute on a regular basis. On the other hand, a child may attend a residential camp at virtually any location away from home.
While it seems the majority of music camps are coed, there certainly exists programs which are either all girls or all boys if this is an important factor regarding your selection decision.
There’s often a live performance aspect to music camps which takes the form of a recital, concert, or band performance … often in a festive context which may allow for the attendance of family & friends, and might be recorded as an audio track or on DVD (or both).
You are able to search for a music camp on the Camp Channel as well filter by state (if you scroll to the very bottom).
We’ll be back in just a little bit.
There are many camps, conference centers, and retreats which offer special sessions tailored specifically for parent child participation. Often these mini sessions occur sometime just before or after the regularly scheduled core summer camp session and typically span the course of a long weekend. Some religious affiliated summer programs may offer more extensive parent-child programming options throughout the course of the summer season.
Such programs are often gender specific (Mother-Daughter or Father-Son), but most seem to be flexible as far as the allowance for a guardian or “special mentor” to accompany a child in lieu of a mother or father. Similarly, multiple children of the same gender are typically allowed to attend with a single parent. However, one of the major differences between a typical parent-child program vs. a typical family camp is that a parent-child camp is normally limited to a single parent. ( There are other differences, which may be addressed at a later date.)
Many parent-child programs allow for relatively younger children to attend — whereas normally they wouldn’t be old enough to attend a sleepaway camp independently. In this sense, parent-child programs might allow some younger children to get a “sneak preview” as well as to make what might be considered a smoother transition into living away from home at a residential summer camp in the future by having a “safety net” of a parent being close at hand while discovering a new environment.
Perhaps of greatest importance is the opportunity for a child to be engaged directly with one of their parents in a one-on-one (as well as group) situation which is conducive to a meaningful bonding experience which may carry over into everyday life outside of the context of camp.
Father-Son or Mother-Daughter pairs will typically participate in a relatively wide range of individual, group, and all-camp activities …. as well as communal dining, camp fires, games, and other special events – which will vary depending upon the particular nature of the hosting camp/facility and their general profile regarding programming in general. So, if a parent-child weekend is taking place at a traditional overnight camp, one might expect to experience a more rounded and general program offering vs. a father son weekend at a football camp (as one example) where the primary emphasis would be focused upon football and related activities. Similarly, religious camps may also incorporate religious or spiritual activities to some extent as a part of their parent-child program offering. The best way to find out about a particular program is to inquire upon the camp director and ask for an itinerary or schedule of activities/events.
In addition to spending quality time and creating life long memories, such programs might also offer parents a chance to be a kid again and escape the routine of “everyday life” for some special quality time with their kids in a unique setting.
Most programs will have at least a minimal complement of staff on hand to address: safety issues, meal service, general operations, as well as provide assistance with particular activities and to help coordinate special events.
While most camps are thrilled to make available their general facilities, it is important to ask the director if it’s expected of you to bring along any particular or special personal equipment such as sleeping bags, baseball gloves, special shoes, etc.
Costs will vary from camp to camp, but are often reasonable in light of the fact that rates may include: lodging, meals, scheduled activities, and general use of the camp facilities. Fees for additional children are also sometimes discounted.
Now is a great time to look into options regarding either a Father & Son camp or a Mother & Daughter camp for this summer!
Given the wide variety of session options being offered by summer camps, selecting the most appropriate session option & overall duration for your child’s summer at camp is an important decision which may be influenced by a number of factors.
At one end of the spectrum, a traditional sleepaway camp season may extend through a good portion of the summer – lasting for 8 or more weeks. Often, such camps will also offer more limited sessions of a shorter duration, such as for half of the summer (4 weeks), as well as even shorter 1-week session increments. In the context of overnight residential camps, shorter 1 or 2 week sessions are sometimes marketed as a “mini-camp” or “1st time camper” program – allowing (especially younger) kids to obtain an initial taste of what camp life is all about while being away from home. A few things to consider about camps which offer multiple sessions:
- Some campers stay for the entire summer
- Some campers arrive at the beginning of the summer and leave during the middle.
- Some campers arrive during the middle and leave at the end of the summer
- Programming and specific summer activities can vary from week to week
The scenarios listed above have important consequences as far as how your child adapts to the overall summer program as well as how he or she interacts with other campers who may be staying longer or leaving sooner.
Cost of enrollment and family budget is often a concern, especially if faced with a decision where each week represents a greater expenditure; however, some camps will offer a better rate for the full summer.
Switching gears, at the other end of the spectrum there are also residential camp programs which offer one or two week sessions which are a bit more independent of one another vs. the steady progression of an eight week camp which builds upon and takes into account prior weeks’ experiences in terms of camp activities and other programming aspects. Such camps may offer multiple shorter sessions over the course of the summer season, but there is a lesser degree of continuity in so far as the population of campers as well as perhaps repetition of programming from prior sessions (unless sessions are divided into ability levels or some other metric). Specialty camps such as Horse Camps, Film Camps, Football Camps (as a few examples), as well as travel camps or teen tours may offer such shorter sessions.
In addition to choosing which weeks you’d like your child to attend, some day camps will allow you to select which days of the week to enroll your child. If your family budget is of concern, this can help financially in so far as allowing your child to attend a summer program for the full length of the summer @ 3 days a week vs. every day of the week for only part of the summer. In busy households, registration for only part of the week may allow for parents to better adjust their work schedule to facilitate an optimum balance.
All camp listings on the Camp Channel will reflect session information in 1 week increment blocks; however, this is a very general indicator and it’s always important to contact the camp director at your camp for the specific details pertaining to their respective program.
Start your search for summer camps on the Camp Channel now!
While an overnight camp is a great opportunity for a child to live away from home and gain a sense of independence, many residential summer camps offer parents and other family members the opportunity to visit at camp during the summer, and possibly to spend some time alone as a family away from camp on what is commonly referred to as “Visiting Day”.
Not all camps offer a visiting day, so it is important to contact the camp director to determine if your camp has a such a day and to plan accordingly. If your camp does in fact host a visiting day, it’s a good idea to obtain all the necessary details to make the day go as smoothly as possible and be enjoyable for all parties.
Obtain the date(s) in advance – planning may entail making travel and lodging arrangements in an area which may have limited accommodations given that camps tend to be located in relatively remote areas. You may also find out that you are competing for space at a handful of local motels with parents who have children attending other camps in the region who hold visiting day on the same date.
Obtain a visiting day schedule from camp – most importantly, there will be an official “start time” and an “end time” (it’s important to be on time), but there may also be planned events which allow you to watch or participate with your child in activities at camp. Ask your child if there are any particular events they would really like you to watch.
Will there be meals served – or will parents be responsible for bringing in food? In either case, it helps to be able to plan accordingly.
Are you able to leave camp with your child? – while your child may be eager to show you what they’ve been doing at camp over the summer, they also might be just as excited to leave camp for a little while in order to “return to civilization” … perhaps to enjoy a slice of pizza in town or visit to the local candy store.
What are the camp rules on bringing back food/gifts? – it’s a pretty sure bet that most camps won’t allow “outside food” to remain at camp very long past visiting day, so be sure to find out the particulars of the camp policy and keep this in mind before purchasing what might be in excess of what is allowed. Similarly, there may be rules regarding what other sorts of non-food items might be prohibited or frowned upon.
If you haven’t already found a suitable summer camp, feel free to search or browse the Camp Channel’s directory of summer camps!