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July 19th, 2017

Summer Camp: Day Camp

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Day Camp is the BEST for younger children!

As we discussed last week in my interview with Jill Tipograph from Everything Summer, it is important that your child develops through social and creative play outside of the classroom.  Camp is a fabulous place for your child to learn and grow this way, building skills for life!  Here is more of the interview with Jill, where we are focusing on DAY camps today.

Karen: Let me ask you a question, Jill. For younger kids, in their very early elementary years, kindergarten, first grade, second grade, what’s the best type of program for that child?

Jill: I really think it’s important for children to first be exposed to a well-rounded camp, where at a young age when kids are malleable and they can formulate different experiences and not prejudge things. It’s important to expose them to all the aspects that they can do in the summer in terms of water, land, arts, sports, adventure and with a set of counselors that are with them all the time and they’re with the same friends in the group and they’re working on bonding and friendships and trust. I really like that experience where it’s more structured and maybe a child gets to choose something once during the day or as they get older they choose a little bit more. I really think it is important to have that foundation, as opposed to children specializing so young–which they do unfortunately today in their extracurricular life.

Karen: So you can find day camps that specialize, but your suggestion is to go for something that’s a little broader, so kids can experience a lot of things.

Jill: Yes, something that I would term as more traditional.

Karen: Okay.

Jill: Where they are once a day getting swim instruction and maybe a second period recreationally they’re swimming. They’re getting their arts and they’re getting some sports and they’re doing some adventure and they’re doing some fun things and some crazy things that they do that are spirited at camp. Really being exposed because soon enough they’re going to be told to focus on something in life and if they haven’t tried a variety of things how can they really know what they want to focus on?

What to Look at for A Day Camp

Karen: That’s true. When parents are looking at day camps what do they need to take into account? What kinds of things should they be looking at when choosing a day camp?

Jill: I think one of the things that you need to first decide is can your child actually handle a traditional day camp meaning most day camps are a full day. There are some for toddlers, pre-K that could be half day. Can they handle that longer period of time, can they do this without having ongoing breaks? Some kids still require naps, so if that’s the case this may not work for them or some camps build in one nap where they rest on little cots during the day. I think that that’s important is for parents to be able to evaluate their child’s physical ability to keep up with this type of schedule.

The amount of independence–can your child listen to someone else besides the parents and adhere to what they’re saying or are they going to not do what they’re asked to do as a group? Will they participate in things or will they constantly say no, I don’t want to do that? What are their social skills–can they communicate enough to make friends with a child or to console a child or just socialize in general and are they open to new experiences? I think that those are signs that help a parent understand if a child can handle a day camp.

The other thing I think that’s important is to match the environment to the actual individual child. You want to make sure that philosophically it’s appropriate and it’s a size that a child is comfortable with and the size of the group, things like that. I think it’s important that parents start early, because often times in these traditional day camps enrollments would be accepted the year before. As you get older in the day camp world the groups may fill and some parents have certain sessions in mind. They need to keep that in mind that not all sessions are necessarily available when they think they’re ready to make a decision, so I think starting it early and even considering visiting the day camps the year before.

Now, fortunately, with day camps many of them are open year-round even if they’re not operating year-round. Sometimes parents can go and visit the camp during the year which is very nice. I think that’s important because especially when kids are young you need to make sure the layout is something they can handle. If it’s hilly, if it’s flat, if it’s contained, if it’s widespread, if there are certain activities that are off camp, you need to consider all these different factors when you’re looking at camps.

The Cost of Day Camp

Karen: Are there programs that are at all different price ranges, would you say?

Jill: Yes, there definitely are. Even these traditional types of day camps that I’m mentioning to you, some towns run them and they’re often times subsidized by the taxes that a taxpayer pays, so the fee would be much less. Will the facilities and the activities be as wonderful? Not necessarily. Will the day be as long? Not necessarily. Will the counselors be as old? Not necessarily, but it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t give a child a camp experience.

Also, the cost of day camp is very much dependent upon where you live in the country. The Northeast around urban areas day camps are more expensive. You could spend anywhere let’s say in the Northeast in an urban area probably somewhere between $700 to almost $1,000 a week depending upon how many weeks you go. Clearly there are cost economies with day camps. The more weeks you go the less expensive each week is.

Join us later in the week for the rest of the story!

If you missed it, here is the first part of the story.

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