Top 5 Questions for a Camp Consultant

campguide.jpgLaurel Barrie has 20 years' experience connecting families and summer camps through her free Summer Camp Matchmaking service. The Camp Connection represents over 500 summer programs that have been visited while camp is in session, referenced and reviewed. Their goal is to help make lots of Happy Campers! We asked Laurel to answer some of our top questions about summer camp and she has been kind enough to share her expert experience with us all. Thanks, Laurel!
I started sleep away camp when I was 8 and loved it but now that I am a mother of an 8 year old this seems awfully early. What age do you suggest children begin sleep away camp? The most wonderful gift a parent can give their children is some of the same opportunities and experiences that they had as a child. To many, this includes going to camp. Campers develop a strong sense of self, gaining confidence and social skills in a shared, nurturing, and healthy environment. Campers mature through learning more about themselves as well as building relationships with others. Most children begin this process between the ages of 8-10, as these are the years where children become more independent and can more easily separate from their parents. Camp is just one big overnight. The fear a child might have of sleeping away from home is a total misnomer, as an overnight camp experience is one where a number of children and staff members sleep in a cabin together. A child is never by or evening! Camp is a home away from home! Do you think its a good idea for my child to go to sleep away camp with her best friend from school? The best part of going to camp is the new relationships that a child can make. It is a time that children can reinvent themselves, learn many new skills and try out new activities. Going to camp with your best friend from home can really create allot of issues. There are many social pressures and responsibilities when attending camp with a best friend. Inevitably someone may get their feelings hurt.. Imagine feeling excluded when your best friend selects another Buddy for the pool or opts to sit with another bunk mate for evening activity. Making new friends and maintaining the intensity of old friendships are sometimes more pressure than a child can cope with. Upon the competition of camp these 'used to be' best friends must go back to their home community and continue to cross paths with hurt feelings! This does not always occur, but frequently enough to possibly to avoid the situation. Going to camp with acquaintances is usually a much better decision and generally works out much better. Remember the adage: Make New Friends and keep the Old...One is Silver and the Other Gold! Let your child have new experiences and make new friends! My son is really into soccer and wants to go to soccer camp. I think its important to get a chance to do a bit of everything and go to a more well rounded camp. What do you think? Playing soccer 6 hours a day during the summer, while contemplating camp in February sounds wonderful, but in actuality might be a little too endeavarous. It might work for a week, but more than that can not only be redundant, but physically dehabilitating! It is in the child's best interest to be offered a broader range of activities for a day that extends from 7AM to 9PM. Varied activities are enriching and provide a great environment to meet new friends and become more proficient in a wider variety of activities. My daughter is a picky eater and I'm worried that she won't eat all month - any advice? A parent's greatest fear is that their Finicky eater will starve when they're away at camp. Quite the contrary...children will eventually become hungry enough that they will eat what is available to them at camp. That's not to say that when the child return home that they won't fall into old eating patterns. Then again...many parents have found that children return from camp having tried and successfully enjoyed many new foods that they want to continue eating at home. What are the things parents need to realize are different about kids going to camps today than when we were kids? Today's parent has very different expectations and involvement in the lives of their children than their parents had when they were children. Today's parent is more educated, grew up in a more privileged environment, and has the world of technology at their disposal. All of these factors and the concerns that this modern world brings factors into making a decision for a child's experience.The range of possibilities is also more extensive than it was years ago! There are more full summer camps, more partial summer camps as well as more specialized camps for sports, the arts, weight loss, horseback riding, computers, etc. For teen there are more teen tours, and programs specializing in academic enrichment, community service and language enrichment. Laurel and Norm Barrie can be reached at 800-834-2267 or via their web site at
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