In a few weeks, school will be out and summer will begin. For parents who put off looking for summer camp this year, don’t worry! There are still some summer camps with availability. The American Camp Association, NY and NJ offers families tips on finding a summer camp at the last minute and planning ahead for next summer.Call the Camp Director
If you have a specific camp in mind, call the camp director and ask what sessions are still open and if there is space in your child’s age group. Try to be flexible. Maybe you had the month of July in mind for camp but be open to the second session of camp programs. This may mean changing around vacation plans or trips to see grandparents but the more flexibility you have, the better chance you have of finding the camp you want at the last minute. Even with last minute camp decisions, parents want to make sure they are doing their research and choosing the right camp for their child. Ask the camp director about the camp’s philosophy and program. Ask yourself if the philosophy of the camp matches your families and if the camp offers a program that is of interest to your child. Make sure the camp is inspected by the Department of Health each year and ask if the camp is ACA Accredited. ACA Accreditation is the best evidence parents have of a camp’s commitment to a safe and nurturing environment for their children. When speaking with the camp director, do you feel he or she is answering all your questions and happy to do so? You are forming a partnership with the camp director so you want to make sure you click with the director and feel comfortable leaving your child in the camp director’s care. Be sure to look at the camp’s website online with your child. Let your child search the site and see the list of camp activities, camp pictures and other camp information. The more involved your child is in the camp process, the more successful the experience will be.
Ask friends and neighbors
Talking to friends and neighbors is a good way to find out about summer camps. But families should keep in mind that just because a camp is the right fit for your friends’ child, it doesn’t mean it will be the right camp for your child. Take their suggestions but make sure to do your own research. You know your child best.
Not sure where to start?
You can call the American Camp Association, NY and NJ at 212.391.5208 for free, one-on-one advice in finding a camp. The American Camp Association, NY and NJ’s Camper Placement Specialist can help guide you in your decision and help you find a camp that will have spaces available at this late date. You can also visit searchforacamp.org to search accredited day or sleepaway camps.
It’s not too early to be looking for a camp for summer 2014. Schedule a camp tour this summer to see camps in action before registering your child for next summer. Tours are a great way to really connect with a camp and the camp’s leadership. Touring camps allows you and your child the chance to see what an actual day at camp will be like and see the lake, pool, bunks and dining hall. Both day and sleepaway camps offer camp tours throughout the summer. A camp tour truly gives families a good feel about whether the camp is the right fit for their child and if you decide to send your child the following summer, he or she will feel part of the decision process.
There are many resident camps that offer Rookie Days or Rookie Weekends which are designed to give future campers a chance to experience the camp in session by joining in on the camp activities before going to camp. While children enjoy the camp activities, parents are taken on a tour of the camp. Rookie days are a wonderful way for children and their parents to get a feel for what the camp is like and to determine if the camp is the right fit before registering for the next summer.
Looking Early Can Help You Plan Financially for Camp
By touring camp the summer before and deciding on a camp almost a year before sending your child, you are able to plan financially for camp. Some camps offer payment plans for registering early, allowing you to pay over time for camp. You can also make camp part of birthday presents and holiday gifts over the upcoming year. Many camps also offer early bird discounts for registering early, giving you a savings on the summer camp price. Families should inquire about sibling discounts for registering more than one child.
ABOUT THE AMERICAN CAMP ASSOCIATION, NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY
The American Camp Association, New York and New Jersey (ACA, NY and NJ) is a private, not for profit organization dedicated to preserving, promoting and enhancing the quality of the summer camp experience. Because of camp, children have the opportunity to learn important lessons in community, character-building, skill development, and healthy life lessons that can’t be learned anywhere else. For more information about the American Camp Association, NY and NJ, visit www.aca-nynj.org.
SOURCE American Camp Association, New York and New Jersey