Happy Campers

For the last couple weeks, my kids have been getting mail from their old counselors, and brochures from camps all around WI. The first year, it seemed early. But now is definitely the time to start thinking camp…

Camp is a fantastic experience. It gives the kids a sense of self. Of responsibility. They don’t have you breathing down their neck, they have to make their own good choices.
Beyond that, they get to try new things and make new friends. It is a safe environment to help them step out of their comfort zone, and often times discover they’re really not at all afraid of kayaking or they are good at shooting a bow and arrow.

Not sure where to start?

The best place to look  for a camp for your kids is the YMCA. There are usually 2 or 3 camps per region, run by different branches of the Y. If you are a member of a church, they generally have a place that hosts camp as well. If you google “summer camps for kids in…(your state)…” you will find many different portals for information. This one is great http://www.kidscamps.com/. You can search by state, interest, age group, all kind of stuff.

You are going to want to look at those camps that are in the general vicinity of where you, mom and dad, are going to be while the kids are at camp. At least until they get a little older. This way if there is an emergency, or your kid’s not ready for the great outdoors without you, you don’t have to take a huge road trip. There is bus transportation for a small fee, usually being dropped off/picked up at your local Y, or a neighboring one.

As you are browsing camps, you will see the staggering prices. Camp can run anywhere from $250-$800 per week. Week!  Do a site search for scholarships. And “pay your way” programs. Many camps offer the campers door to door sales items, as well as online fundraisers to help them get to camp. You can also contact the YMCA or United Way to find if there are scholarships. Those you will generally write an essay about why you want your kids to go and what you are able to pay. You can go as low as $75 per camper if your situation warrants it.

Once you find a couple feasible options, print out their offerings, complete with camp session details. Look over the brochures with your kids. Let them decide what they want to try, giving gentle suggestions. Remember, this is about them, not you. What scares you may excite them and what you like they may despise. Let ’em pick. They all go by age. **If you have more than one child, I have found it easier to send them to the same camp, same week, different programs. I do this with mine and they don’t see each other except at the fire. Then they snuggle together and talk to each other about their days. 🙂

Not that everyone is stoked to go, you have to have the gear. They will need a sleeping bag, pillow, tagged clothing, notebook, reading book, suit, sunscreen, bug spray, flashlight, poncho, etc. etc. etc. The camp will send you a packing list, along with the umpteen hundred forms you need to fill out and have signed by the Dr. 
For the things they will need, scrounge up what supplies you have in the house. Whatever’s left, start picking it up here and there. You will be very surprised to find that you don’t need to purchase much.

The rest, it’s just memories!

Camp will last your kids their lifetime. The memories and experiences will make them stronger and braver people.

Do you do camp? How has it affected your kids?



One comment

  1. linzster · March 9, 2012

    I practically grew up at a YMCA camp in Western PA, Camp Kon-O-Kwee. Loved it! I did the camper thing, then the counselor-in-training summers, worked as a counselor, and even became a village director. One of the best experiences of my life!

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