Summer camp with multiethnic school kids drawing words on a pavement outdoor floor as a symbol of recreation and fun education with a group of children working as a team for learning success.

Preparing for the 1st Camp

A family preparing to send a child to a ‘first ever’ summer camp will likely experience a lot of emotional peaks and valleys. For parents and children alike, there will be rushes of excitement and maybe even a twinge of uncertainty. Something new naturally creates a mixed bag of emotions. Once those timid thoughts are conquered by all the ‘positives’ a child is about to be a part of  camp, it’s time to get everything in order to make it a pleasant success.

It’s About the Children

Parents may have fond memories about summer camps they attended and may naturally want their children to attend the same camp. It may seem like a great idea, but it’s best to include the child in the overall decision of which camp they would like to attend.

Focusing on the current main interest of a child is a great place to start. Is it athletics? Is it academics? Is it drama? There are several camp options available for today’s youth. Giving the child a feeling of ‘ownership’ is a fantastic start to making the camp experience very rewarding.

Prepare the Child for Success

Verify with camp counselors what the child needs to bring to camp, what forms need to be signed (including any Legal Disclaimer or Health Form) prior to camp attendance. As for what the child brings or wears, ask specifics. Taking a child shopping for new sneakers and T-shirts may accelerate the excitement level of a child, but doing so when the camp suggest slightly worn clothes due to the nature of the camp (football, field hockey, e.g.) may turn out to be wasting money.

If camp activities are mainly outdoors a must-bring list should include:

  1. Sunscreen/sunblock
  2. Loose-fit clothing
  3. Proper footwear
  4. Change of socks/T-shirts

Other possible questions to ask:

  1. How are the children grouped? Age? Skill level?
  2. What steps are taken by the camp counselors to address discipline concerns?
  3. How does the camp address a discouraged first-time camper?

Timeliness

Parents need to arrive at drop-off/pick-up sites ahead of time. If there is a traffic tie-up, etc. have the camp phone number available to relay such a reason for a delay. Also, make certain the camp can easily access parents in the event of a child accident or illness.

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The First Day of Camp: What to Expect

 

If this is your child’s first time at camp, they may be feeling nervous. It can be scary when you don’t know what to expect and your child may feel better if you prepare them for what to expect on that all-important first day of camp.

 

Camp is one of those monumental milestones. Your child will make new friends, learn new skills, gain confidence, learn problem-solving skills and, most importantly of all, have fun. Camp is designed to be fun – we want your child to have the time of his life. For kids who haven’t attended camp before, the idea of camp can be a little daunting. Your child may feel nervous about not knowing anyone, worried about the activities offered or simply feel unsure of what to expect. You can help your child to settle in by preparing them in advance for that all-important first day of camp. Here’s an overview you can go over with your son or daughter.

 

Meet new people

There will be a lot of new faces on that first day of camp. Your child will be introduced to fellow campers as well as meeting all of the staff and volunteers. It’s a lot of people to say hi to, but don’t worry, we have plenty of ways of helping everybody out of their shells.

 

Learn names, make friends

There’s no better way to get acquainted with your fellow campers than by goofing around. We have plenty of fun ice-breakers up our sleeves to help the kids get to know each other, learn everybody’s names and relax a little. By the end of that first day, the camp full of strangers will already feel like a camp full of friends.

 

Exploring

We’ll be taking the campers on a guided tour of the camp facilities. We want to make sure your child knows where the toilets are as well as where to find all of the different activities. Campers will get a chance to explore their new surroundings and make themselves at home.

 

Learning the rules

Camp isn’t about rules and regulations, it’s about having fun. That said, to make sure people can have fun safely, we need to make sure everybody knows the ground rules. We’ll be explaining the rules to all of the campers on the first day. And once that’s done, it’s time to start having fun!

 

Buddying up

Your child will have a staff member to go to with any problems and these will be assigned on the first day. That means your child will have a point of contact for any issues that may arise. Of course, we hope there aren’t any, but if there are, we want you to know your child has somebody to talk to. Your child will be introduced to their assigned staff member on the first day and they’ll spend a little time getting to know each other ready for the summer ahead.

 

Don’t forget, letting your child know what to expect in advance could help your child relax and look forward to camp. If you have any questions, just ask!

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Why A Daytime Summer Camp Is Right for Your Kid

When it comes to your kid’s summer, you’ll want to make sure you get it right. Camp doesn’t have to mean weeks away from home, find out why a daytime summer camp might be right for your kid.

Your own childhood memory bank might be filled with memories of how you spent your summer months. If you spent your time climbing trees, sharing secrets and falling in love at camp, you might be hoping for the same experience for your own child. After all, camp is one of those coming of age experiences that plays an important part in helping kids to grow up.

 

If you’re not quite ready to pack your child off into the sunset just yet, you might like the idea of a day camp. Unlike a traditional summer camp, a day camp operates during daytime hours only. So your child will be tucked up safely under your roof at the end of each day. Here are just three reasons why a daytime summer camp is right for your kid:

 

  1. It’s a step towards independence

There’s no need to throw your child in at the deep end, your child can gain independence one step at a time. It doesn’t need to be a sink or swim approach to camp, you can ease your child into time away from home by choosing a day camp. At day camp, your child will get to make new friends, learn new skills and gain confidence – all without straying too far from home. Day camp allows your child to enjoy the benefits of summer camp without forfeiting on the love and comfort of home.

 

  1. You’ll still get to enjoy family time

Summer camp can be tough on kids, but sometimes it’s even tougher on the parents. After all, you’re bound to miss your kids if you don’t see them for weeks on end! Sure, the phone calls and postcards are great, but it’s not the same as a chat over dinner, is it? With day camp, you’ll get to spend each evening with your child. You’ll hear all the latest gossip from camp, share in their sporting achievements and get to kiss your kids on the forehead before they go to sleep. Really, what could be better?

 

  1. Your child will meet new people locally

Camp is great because your child is exposed to new kids from all over the country, but wouldn’t it be better if those friendships could become a part of everyday life? With day camp, your child will be spending his days with other kids from the local area. That means, when camp’s over, the friendship isn’t. At day camp, your child will mix with an array of kids from the nearby area and you may find some of these friendships blossom into lifelong friendships.

 

Sure, both sleep-away and day camp are both great experiences and fun for your kids. However, day camps are the best of both worlds!

 

Right Between The Eyes….

Graham Nash said it best in his lyric, ‘A man’s a man who looks another man right between the eyes!’ It’s a simple gesture; looking in one’s eyes while shaking hands. Simple, yet profound.

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Every Monday at Future Stars, Southampton, we begin a new session. With the advent of a new week, a whole new group of campers arrive eager, yet nervous about the unknown people and surroundings. It can be unnerving, and understandably so. In fact, many of the younger campers are so reticent that they feel compelled to beg their parents to stay with them.

After years of experience running camps, I assure the parents that all will be okay and that their children will acclimate quickly. I describe that the ‘band-aid’ approach is the most effective. This method consists of walking away from your child, despite the tears and screaming. It’s difficult, but experience has taught me that the short-term pain will quickly dissipate and the child will find his/her niche.

It’s not as sylogistic as described above however. It involves a systematic and delicate introduction into the camp dynamic. The counselors are fully aware of the new campers, and go out of their way to assuage their apprehension. Additionally, the culture we have created here promotes and rewards the more veteran campers when they make an effort to play and interact with the new campers. This helps.

What we find to be most effective, however, is the introduction ritual we carry out every Monday morning. The director of the camp, Shane Flanagan, prompts the campers with open-ended questions related to the proper way of presenting yourself to someone who you have never met. A group discussion ensues and finally one of the campers volunteers to model the proper way of shaking someone’s hand, introducing yourself, stating ‘nice to meet you,’ and most importantly, making direct and concerted eye contact. We stress eye contact. Proper eye contact informs the person you’re meeting that you are conscious of this introduction, and it is important to you. Without words, much is spoken through the eyes.

Following the demonstration, the campers are instructed to stand up and introduce themselves to three people that they have yet to meet. The campers approach each other, extend their hands, shake firmly, state their names, express that it’s nice to meet them, and lastly, make eye contact. The eye contact lets each camper sense an innate connection. Acceptance to the group is conveyed. Anxiety dissipates.

This process is critical to the relaxed and accepting environment we have at camp. The act of looking another in the eyes is simple in its execution, yet profound in its interpretation. It denotes that I’m here with you, for you, and we are connected. The eyes are the prism to one’s essence, and it communicates to each other that we are on the same level. Graham Nash’s lyric, A man’s a man who looks another man right between the eyes, breaks down all greeting rituals to the one that connects us most. Our campers feel that connection on a daily basis by performing this simple act. We should all keep that in mind the next time we interact with someone, it goes a long way in enhancing our connectedness. Plus, it’s simply polite.