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May 20th, 2017

Summer Camp: Spreading Their Wings

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Summer Camp

Summer Camp

As parents we spend so much time worrying about our children’s academic abilities, but some of the most important skills kids learn are acquired in a camp or a summer program. Now I went to Camp Arrowhead, as a child, and I loved it so much. When my parents could no longer afford to send me, I began painting pictures, and I sold them in art shows, so that I could pay for my own summer camp tuition. The seeds of my becoming an entrepreneur which I feel I am today started because I wanted to go to summer camp.

Camp was life changing for my daughter, as well. Skylar had learning disabilities and school was a place, where she faced constant failure. At her camp French Woods in the Catskills, they had this amazing circus program, and she learned to do the aerial ballet with silks. At 13, after camp, Skylar went onto join a circus program in New York City where she was the only child in the whole program, but she just rocked it, she really did. Then she’d go back to camp each year, and she’d perform in musicals and plays. When she finished high school, rather than go to a traditional college which really would have been a waste of time for her, she attended this wonderful acting conservatory. In fact, she was the only student admitted right after high school. It was summer camp where my daughter discovered her passion and it’s where she got her first training and her first taste of success.

I am a huge proponent of finding the right summer program for your child because I’ve seen firsthand that it can be life changing.

I had the privilege of interviewing Jill Tipograph, who is from Everything Summer. Whether you are talking about finding a day camp for your six-year- old, a sleep away camp for your 12-year- old or a college resumé building experience for your teenager, Jill knows everything about how to find the right program.

So today I am inviting you to an interview series with Jill.

Interview with an Expert

Karen:  Jill, thanks for being here today.

Jill: Oh, thanks, Karen. I love talking about camps and summer programs as you know.

Karen: I know you do and, in fact, tell me how did you even get started becoming an expert in summer programs?

Birth of a Business

Jill: Actually, it was a career switch for me about 16 years ago. I spent the first half of my career in the marketing and advertising world and client service and research. I decided, at that point in my time, when my children were very young to get off the fast track of female executives and spend a little more time with my children. I was very bored at home, since I’d always worked. Coincidentally my two children wanted to go to overnight camp.

I took all of my skills that I had acquired both in terms of qualitative and quantitative and working with people, and I have an undergrad psych degree as well as an MBA. I made a project out of this and I realized that this is a way for me to help other people in a time of their life that can be very stressful and uncovering information and guidance that they needed. It developed into a business 16 years ago, and it’s grown ever since.

Karen: I’m laughing because I think that’s probably another radio show, but I got into my original business of helping families get their kids into schools for the same reason, because I helped my own son get into school. It turned into such a project that it ultimately became a business. It’s really interesting how our children can really lead us into new careers.

Spreading Their Wings

Jill: No, I think it’s very true. I think that when you realize that you go through something and you can help other people, and it’s a passion that comes naturally to you and you are entrepreneurial, then it’s the birth of a business.

Karen: Yeah, it really is. While we’re together I’ll tell you there’s three things that I hope we can talk about. First I want to talk about why camp — whether it’s camp or some kind of summer program — is so important to children and I want to talk about also the best programs for younger kids. Then I’d like to talk about sleep away camps for kids who are a little bit older, so why don’t we start. You have seen thousands of children participating in summer programs. What do you think they do for kids? Why do you think they’re so important?

Jill: I think that camp overall, especially in today’s world, it gives kids a sense of a built-in community where they can feel safe and unconditionally accepted. There’s no baggage, no one’s really evaluating them and it’s a time when parents can start to let their kids spread their wings a little bit, gain a little independence that’s age appropriate throughout their lifecycle of being a child and teenager. At the same time learn that the world isn’t just about them and how to collaborate and be a team player.

Unplugged Skill Building

I also think especially at a young age children today are so plugged into media and technology that the whole camp experience forces them to interact with human beings. They learn about communication and social behaviors and reading body language. At the same time they have adults who are helping them develop a stronger self-esteem and learn how to develop friendships and maintain them and try new things. Take some safe risks where you push yourself to try new things and develop new skills and, of course, have fun and memories, so to me there’s nothing better than camp.

Karen: I loved camp, I really did and my kids did as well and I just feel … I agree with you, I think that so many things that children can’t learn in school and maybe can’t learn in their everyday life, by putting them out on their own and letting them spread their wings a little bit like you said this is their chance to do it, so I agree.

Jill: Yeah, just to put this in perspective where we are in today’s world. I’m sure everyone listening to this has read many op-ed pieces in the articles that are written about the Tiger Mom in terms of different types of parenting. What’s been interesting is the flip side what has come out of this is the importance of children development relating to the social and creative play that they lack in their school environments and their scheduling. I can’t think of a better place to really develop social and creative play than in camp. To me it’s really becoming even much more of a necessity today for children than it was years ago because there’s a lack of emphasis on the skills they need for life in their school life whereas in camp there’s a focus on those.

Thank you for reading today!  Join me next week, as I continue the conversation with Jill.

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