News & Resources

Summer Camp Resources

About Father-Son & Mother-Daughter Camps

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!

Choosing A Camp Session Length

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!

Visiting Day At Residential Camps

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!

Summer Camps and Early Bird Enrollment Rates

While it might be sad news to some that Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow and winter weather might not release it’s grip for some time, it’s never too early to start planning for summer camp. In fact, making firm arrangements at this time of the year might translate into a bit of a savings on your child’s summer enrollment fees in the form of what’s often referred to as an “Early Bird Discount”.

Many summer camps will offer parents the opportunity to either submit a deposit or payment in full in the months prior to camp in exchange for a lower rate. Typically, there is a “cut off” date or deadline which separates early bird and standard regular season rates. The existence and details of early bird discounts varies from camp to camp, so it’s important to contact your camp director to learn whether such a program exists and if so what are the specific requirements and other details.

Family Camps and Other Summer Camp Program Opportunities

Many summer camps, in particular residential & overnight camps, offer secondary camp programs which either take place just prior to the start of their main camp session(s) or immediately after it’s conclusion and allow for some form family participation. Early to mid June is typically the time slot for such pre-camp programs; however, the exact dates sessions can vary from camp to camp … so it really just depends on the particular schedule of any particular camp.

There are also camps which are dedicated to exclusively offering only “family camp” sessions which might afford a wider range of session opportunities … since they are not operating a kids camp during the heart of the summer. Geography might also play a factor in so far as family camp options which might be available during the course of the year. Generally speaking, family camps in the Western U.S. or areas with more moderate year round climates tend to offer more options throughout the calendar year vs. those camps which are snow bound in the winter … which are often entirely shut down until late spring.

Many family camps will offer three meals a day and provide some form of lodging; however, you might want to inquire upon the specifics of such in order to insure your family’s expectations are in line with what a family camp might offer. In the same light, activities and facilities can vary from camp to camp … so it’s important to find the right environment which is most suitable for your family’s vacation at camp.

On one end the spectrum, some family camps are based upon extensive programming which offers a variety of activities, instruction, and other events which might involve an expectation of a certain level of participation – either individually, or as a member of a group.

On the other end of the spectrum, some family camps are much less program oriented and more of a rental opportunity for a family to enjoy the environment and setting of a camp, while also being afforded the ability to make use of the available facilities on their own schedule as they see fit.

In addition to traditional family camps, there also exist programs to provide an opportunity for parents to accompany their child for a “mini session”. Some camps which are gender specific (i.e. “All Boys” or “All Girls”) might have Father/Son or Mother/Daughter sessions available. Such programs can be a great opportunity for a younger child to be introduced to life at a summer camp in a manner which provides the “safety” of a parent being present while also being exposed to living directly in a summer camp environment.

The lines are sometimes blurred between what might traditionally be referred to as a “Family Camp” (or post camp) and such introductory programs. However, more traditional family camps might be a bit less aligned with the actual core programming of the main summer camp sessions and geared more toward the inclusion of all family members – which may include very young children as well as older adults – who may have a varied set of interests and needs.

Please keep in mind that not all camps offer such programs and those which do provide such offerings can vary greatly among camps. Contacting the Camp Director is the best way to find out!

Financial Assistance Opportunities: Summer Camps

While your child’s summer at camp might truly be nothing short of priceless, it is difficult to escape the fact there are real costs associated with sending your child to summer camp. While most camps try to extend affordable rates and different session offerings in order to provide families various options which might be most in line with a family’s budget, sometimes the reality of the situation might still leave a family a few dollars (or more) short of being able to afford a camp of one’s choice.

If the prospects of sending your child to camp might seem bleak due to financial reasons, don’t give up hope … since you might not be aware of opportunities which exist to be awarded financial assistance. Many camps are in a position to assist in at least pointing you in the “right direction” if they are aware of such opportunities. Sometimes a particular camp might work directly with a specific funding source, or a camp director might simply be aware of the existence of (third party) organizations which might be worth an inquiry. In any case, please understand that not all camps are in a position to offer financial assistance or to provide you with any solid leads. It all really depends upon the specific circumstances pertaining to any given camp. Having said that, you won’t find out until you ask!

Much depends upon the particular camp and whether they offer an established internal program – controlled directly by the camp to provide financial assistance, or in many cases whether a camp is in some sort of partnership with a third party “benefactor” to assist with children/families in need of some level of financial support.

Just as the actual availability of financial assistance can vary greatly from camp to camp, so too can the actual level of assistance provided. Some people might find themselves in the lucky position of having their entire enrollment fee subsidized while others might find some form of a “sliding scale” pay scale used to reduce a parent’s out of pocket expenses based upon the household income level. There are also assistance programs which will donate “matching funds”.

For example, Performing Arts Workshops with seven summer day camp locations in southern California (Studio City, Pasadena, Chatsworth, West L.A., Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach and El Segundo) has recently announced:

Through a generous donation, twenty scholarships at each of the Summer Camp locations are now available. It is the donor’s request that the scholarships have no conditions or prerequisites. These special scholarships have been made available as a matching fund. PAW’s donor, whose wish is to help local children experience the arts this summer, will sponsor half the tuition for up to twenty children at each PAW camp location. Each matching scholarship provides $240 of the tuition when the parent matches the remaining $240. Please call (310) 827-8827 for more info.

Camp Menominee for Boys in Eagle River, Wisconsin makes use of a special fund (Nate Wasserman Fund) to provide “camperships” based upon financial need:

Applicants must be willing to contribute some amount toward the enrollment fee and are asked to provide information about their financial situation which is then submitted to the board which oversees the Nate Wasserman Fund.

The board then decides whether or not the applicant qualifies for assistance based upon financial need. If so, they will determine how much can be awarded based upon the specifics of an applicant’s situation. This amount — which combined with the families’ out-of-pocket contribution — will equal about 2/3 of the total enrollment fee, whereby Camp Menominee will cover the remaining 1/3.

When it’s all said and done, some families who’ve been awarded a “campership” may pay as little as 10% of the regular rate, while others might pay as much as 45% … it varies from case to case. Please call 800-236-2267 for more information.

The particular type of camp or program emphasis can also have be a factor as to the likelihood of there being financial assistance offered. For example, it seems that summer camps who serve individuals with special needs are often in a position to offer financial assistance due to being associated with a much larger “parent entity” which is either a non profit and/or simply an extremely benevolent institution seeking to better the lives of children who might be contending with what could be terminal, life-threatening, or extremely challenging conditions.

Regardless of the type of camp or program you are interested, getting in touch with the camp director is a great step toward uncovering what options might be available for your child and your pocketbook. If financial assistance is not a realistic option at the moment, then it’s possible the camp director might be able to provide you with some program alternatives which might be available & more in line with your budget … as well as guidance for the following summer if the lack of funding is due to an issue related to timing. Just remember, it never hurts to ask!
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Making Contact With Summer Camps

If you are currently in the process of trying to find the best match in a summer camp, now is a great time to contact camp directors directly and start a dialogue in order to determine if a particular camp is right for you and your child.

Most camp directors will be thrilled to speak with a parent who might be seeking to send their child to camp; however, as a parent it might be easier to use email as an initial point of contact if you are considering a large number of different camps as possible choices.

Using email, you might be able to sift out “deal breaker” information (i.e. cost/budget) in order to zero in on the group of camps which are all at least in the “ballpark” with respect to the criteria spelled out by you and your child.  The Camp Channel’s listings all have forms which allow you to send a camp an email inquiry directly from their listing.

If there are not too many camps on your list or you’re more of a “telephone person”, you can always call the camp office to make initial contact.  One advantage of calling vs. email is that you might get a better “first take” on a director through a verbal conversation – which often conveys a better understanding of a person.

Even though email and telephone calls can be effective tools, it is important to always follow up directly with a camp director; preferably in person, at some point in the process order to better understand and get a feel for the camp director’s overall perspective & other aspects you might believe to be significant.

Some camps offer open house dates for parents to see the facilities and ask questions.  Some will even schedule individualized visits for either you to tour the camp grounds or for a director to come to your home to meet everyone & field questions.  Sometimes directors will deliver a slideshow or video presentation.

Feel free to search or browse for a summer camp on the Camp Channel!

Summer Camp Photos & Memorabilia From This Past Summer

With Labor Day weekend upon us, the summer is quickly approaching an end and most summer camps have concluded their sessions. However, it is normally not too late to order photos from this past camp season from the camp you or your child may have attended this summer.

Many camps will have posted hundreds (or thousands) of photos on their website during the course of the camp season in order that family and friends could look at all of the fun and excitement happening at camp this summer. Often, these very same photos are available as prints for purchase & sometimes they can also be printed on other gift items such as coffee mugs, t-shirts, calendars, playing cards, etc. Now is a great time to go back and review some of the great shots which might be worthwhile saving in the form of a print or other memorabilia item.

Please note: not all summer camps post photos online, so it is important to visit your particular camp’s website to see if they available, and if so, whether the photos can be purchased as prints. If there are photos posted online, but not available as prints via a commercial service, it is often possible to save the digital version of the photo to your own computer for safe keeping (or to print on your own printer). Please take note of any applicable copyrights.

Many camps still provide “old fashioned” traditional prints (or even camp videos) as either part of the camper enrollment tuition or for an additional fee, which may include: an individual portrait, an all camp photo, cabin/unit photo, other activity photos, camp video yearbook, etc. Again, it’s important to find out if your camp offers such as service by contacting the camp director.

It’s Never Too Early For Summer Camp – 2011 Enrollment

While we’re certainly still in the midst of summer, your child’s session at summer camp might be coming to a close in the near future. Although the summer of 2011 might seem very far off into the future, it is never too early to consider signing up for camp.

In fact, many camps offer some form of promotional incentive to sign up for the subsequent summer immediately after the completion of the final day at camp. Often, this might take the form of some sort of “early bird discount” if you complete a camper enrollment registration and submit a deposit within a specified time frame. If the summer camp your child attends is offering such a promotion and you are seeking to take advantage of such an opportunity, it is important to read the terms carefully; especially with respect to how refunds of deposits might be handled.

Some camps might also offer some sort of contest or drawing for a larger savings. All camps are different, so it’s important that you contact your camp director to obtain the specific details of how any possible promotion to sign up early affects you and your child.

Another issue to consider is that your camp might be operating at or very near full capacity. If this is the case, signing up as early as possible is a good way to insure your child has a spot available at camp for next summer and is not placed on a “waiting list”.

Although it may seem difficult to commit to what is a significant financial undertaking at such an early juncture, if your child has expressed a firm desire to return to camp next summer (or for the first time), signing up early could provide you with a little savings and also establish a clear financial objective in order to plan and save. Along these lines, some camps offer financial assistance or might be able to point you in the right direction.

Even if you’re not going to immediately enroll your child at camp for next summer, it may still be beneficial to obtain a copy of a 2011 camper registration form to see about rates, terms, and significant dates. Many camps will be posting this information to their websites before or just after the current summer ends. Simply having the information will afford you a longer time frame to plan accordingly with respect to financial requirements and also have a meaningful discussion with your child about attending summer camp in the summer of 2011.

Packing Lists For Summer Camps

Summer is has officially begun with the Summer Solstice occurring a couple days ago on Monday June 21, 2010. If your child will be attending summer camp it is important to prepare necessary items to use during the course of day-to-day life (clothing, camping gear, toiletries, etc.), while also keeping in mind that some things might be prohibited at camp.

All summer camps are different with respect to items which are required as well as those which are not allowed, so you are strongly encouraged to inquire directly with the specific camp. Often times a “packing list” or “gear list” will be available directly on a camp’s website.

Camps often utilize a particular provider for camp logo apparel such as t-shirts, hats, sweatshirts, etc. and may require your child to purchase a number of these specific items to participate in camp related activities. An official packing list may also provide you with a recommended amount of clothes and supplies to bring to camp. Keep in mind that if your child is going to attend a residential or “sleepover” camp, be sure to check whether or not laundry services are provided and plan accordingly.

Food is by far one of the more prevalent items which are prohibited by most camps. Cell phones, hand held video games, & other electronic items are often not allowed. Still, it is possible some might be permissible … such as digital cameras or GPS units. You may want to review your camp’s website or contact the camp director if you have questions as to whether a particular item is allowed at camp or not.

If your child is taking any medicines or has special needs (i.e. diet, allergies, etc.) it is strongly recommended that you insure the camp director is aware of these issues before camp begins. Many camps have medical staff to organize and regulate medications for campers. However, your camp might require you to send medications via a particular protocol to insure that “everyone is on the same page”.

Keep in mind there may be some items of equipment which are the responsibility of the camper to bring along to camp (i.e. sleeping bag, flashlights, canteen, baseball mitt, etc.), yet other gear might be made available and supplied at the camp (i.e. basketballs, tents, water skis, etc.). Remember, don’t be afraid to ask the camp director if you are in doubt, most will be happy to assist you.

It is often a great idea to clearly label the clothing and gear with your child’s name. There are many label companies who provide customized label solutions. Labeling such items might even be a requirement at camp. A permanent magic marker can also be of use for labeling gear and equipment.

Most camps either require or encourage writing letters, so a supply of paper, pens or pencils, stamps, and envelopes will definitely be useful for your child to write to family and friends regarding all of their experiences at summer camp!