Starter Sleepaway Camps: Short Summer Sessions for Younger Kids

Going to sleepaway camp is a rite of passage for many New York City kids. Young city slickers pack their trunks and spend four- to eight-weeks in the great outdoors, communing with nature, and experiencing life without mom and dad.

If you've got an elementary schooler who's interested in trying sleepaway camp but is anxious about going away for a month (or more likely you're the one freaking out), you don't have to make such a big time commitment. These days, many sleepaway camps in the Northeast offer starter camps, one or two-week sessions specifically designed for first-timers. These mini-camps are a great way for families to test the waters to make sure you and your kid are ready to spend the summer apart. We've found a dozen diverse camps that offer these kinds of junior sleepaway programs.

NJ Candy Stores & Sweet Shops Kids Will Love

There are plenty of ways to celebrate Valentine's Day with the kids in New Jersey, including fun family events, craft projects, and more. Another way to celebrate, of course, is with a special sweet treat, be it chocolate making, or cute cake pops, or heart-shaped candies.  

We've rounded up some top sweet shops and candy stores around the state to bring your little monkeys some yummy goodness this Valentine's Day.

Not Your Run-of-the-Mill Mommy and Me Classes

Sometimes the hardest thing about parenting can be getting out of the house. Especially in the early years, that Mommy or Daddy and Me class might be the only outing you manage all day—even all week. It had better be good. If you're in search of a better reward for your packing and planning than another verse of The Wheels on the Bus, try bringing your SoCal babe to one of these oh-so-LA activities! From sensory conditioning to social justice, cellular rejuvenation to baby drum circle, you might just find your funky tribe amongst these diverse offerings.

Five Country Day Camps within New York City Limits

Sunshine, fresh air, plenty of running around and sports. Those are some of the great reasons to send your child out of the city to one of the many wonderful country day camps that surround the city. If you (or your child) aren't quite ready to head out of the city, here are five camps in NYC proper that approximate the country day camp experience.

Find more options in our Camp Guide and Directory.

Indoor Water Parks and Pools for New Jersey Families

Winter certainly has its charms: building snowmen, sledding, skating, and hot cocoa are wonderful, but by mid-January you and your family might be looking to warm up in a more tropical environment. While it might be nice to board a plane to a sunny island destination, it’s not always possible or cost-effective. Luckily, you can enjoy some summertime fun even in the coldest months at a multitude of indoor water parks and pools in and around New Jersey. All of these destinations can be reached in about three hours or less by car, give or take your starting address and traffic, of course. Go dig out your bathing suit from behind your coats and mittens, and get ready to take the plunge at one of these exciting parks!

Where to Donate Used Toys and Clothes in Philadelphia

The holidays are over, and now your house is overrun with new toys, old toys, and everything in between. If you are like me and you live in a Philadelphia row home, space is limited! So what do you do with all of this stuff? Donating used clothes, toys, and other goods can not only help clear the clutter, but can also do some real good for Philadelphia-area families. Donating can also be a great thing to do with your kids to help teach them some very valuable lessons about giving. If your kids are older, they can help you pick from this list of places that take gently used donations to serve a mission you care about.

15 Popular Preschool Summer Camps in NYC

Finding a cool and enriching summer camp that's right for your kid always takes a bit of work. Finding one that's a good fit for your first-time, preschool-age camper can be downright nerve-racking. You want their initial camp experience to be fun, safe, and memorable, but not over-stimulating or overwhelming. With so many high-quality camps for NYC preschoolers, it's hard to figure out which one to choose.

That's why we turned to the experts: our friends at the American Camp Association of New York and New Jersey. They've selected 15 awesome New York City programs that offer preschoolers a well-rounded summer experience filled with games, arts, sports, socializing, and plenty of outdoor time. Best of all, many of these camps grow with your child taking kids in elementary school and beyond.

Keep in mind, every camp has its own philosophy and program so check out the website, call the director and, if possible, attend an open house to get all the information you need. Want more help? The ACA of NY and NJ also offers FREE camp consultations with its experts. Plus our Summer Camp Guide Directory allows you to search for camps by location, age range, and focus.

See National Parks for Free in 2017 on These Free Entrance Days

A trip to one of our nation's incredible national parks may already be on your family travel to-do list for 2017. Whether it is or not, you may want to check out the just released FREE admission days at some of the country's largest parks. Courtesy of the National Park Service, the 10 FREE days all take place on easy-for-planning weekends, school breaks, and national holidays at select parks.

While many parks have free admission every day of the year, more than 100 of them, including some of the most popular destinations, charge $15 per person or more. Those waiving admission for these 10 holidays include some of those iconic, bucket list spots like the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Acadia, Zion, Shenandoah, Glacier National Park, Olympic National Park, Harpers Ferry, Everglades National Park, and the Cape Cod Seashore. The freebies also extend to a few historical sites under the National Park Service's purview, like the New York home of celebrated American president Franklin D. Roosevelt and national historic parks like Morristown National Historic Park, the scene of an American Revolutionary War battle.

Mark your calendars as the first FREE admission day is coming up this month, Monday, January 19, Martin Luther King Day; and now, read on to find out the rest of the FREE days, and get a peek at some of the kid-friendly parks that are waiving admission. 

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