Choosing the Best Summer Camp for Your Student
Summer ‘21. Is. Happening. Smile and repeat three times! After the past school year and living in a pandemic existence, it’s the season, sunshine, and light at the end of the tunnel so many parents and families need. As with the rest of the world, it’s been an ever changing and challenging year for the summer camp and program industry. Summer ‘20 brought on closures with many camps unable to open their gates and programs able to run.
However, it should be highlighted that a few camps and programs were able to open successfully in ‘20, providing a road map, best practices, and key learnings for the camp industry and more confidence moving towards this summer. Certainly, parts of camp had to be reimagined, but it helped highlight the most important parts of the experience. An oasis, despite masks and sanitizer, for kids to just be kids. Camps and programs have been hard at work creating their COVID protocols and adapting their programs and facilities to safely run in ‘21. This applies to day camps, both traditional and specialty sleepaway camps, and a range of middle and high school programs focused on travel, outdoor adventure, language immersion, community service, and enrichment.
You, like many of the families we are working with, might just now be ready to take the next step to plan your child’s summer, or perhaps you want to start the process now for summer ‘22. So many people are finally getting into a headspace where they can think and plan ahead. You’re not too late, and it’s never too early to get the ball rolling!
Just like Admit NY’s admissions process for finding the best fit school, many families we work with start their summer camp or program search over a year or many months in advance.. While it may sound silly to compare a camp to your child’s scholastic education, we truly believe camp is a different, but just as important, form of education. In this unplugged environment, children learn the invaluable and important 21st century skills needed to thrive in life, like 1) critical thinking & problem solving, 2) creativity & innovation, and 3) communication and collaboration. Not all classrooms have four walls, and camp is a magical place for kids to grow and learn socially, emotionally, and developmentally. Camp can also become your child’s second home and a place where he or she will hopefully make best friends for life; fellow campers could be a part of your family for MANY years to come. So the culture of the camp, the philosophy and values, the vibe, the people, the activities – these are all incredibly important characteristics to consider, just as in the admissions process for school.
There are so many incredible camps and programs out there, but the right match is key! As it relates to camp, you want a camp that will not only be a good fit in summer ‘21 but a place they can grow with for years to come. Camp is a huge emotional and financial investment, so we highly suggest determining your most important search criteria, doing your due diligence, asking the right questions, and speaking to the right people. You can begin by asking yourself some of the basics. Do we want a single-sex or coed camp? Where do we want the camp to be located? What’s the right session length; do we want flexible sessions or a full summer experience? Then dive in to the more nitty gritty… do we want an all-elective schedule or a more structured program? You might consider the size of the camper population, where the campers come from, activity selection… and so much more!
So, how do you find a summer camp or program during a pandemic? We’ve got you covered. The good news is that you can find your child’s summer home right from your home! We’ve all become really skilled at getting things done virtually. Rest assured that you can add finding a camp or program from home to the list of things we’ve adapted to and become skilled at doing. Luckily summer camps’ and programs’ marketing repertoires are set up to equip prospective families with the tools needed to get to know their camps and programs from afar and in this new normal. Camps have comprehensive websites with highlight videos, and virtual tours of the property where you can see where your child would actually sleep, eat, and play. Programs have websites with amazing search tools to find and explore detailed itineraries.
A way to deepen your research and go from a conceptual to more tangible understanding is by connecting directly with the camps and programs. Virtual meetings and home visits are a great chance to meet with the people who create the camp or program magic! You can gain valuable insight from a face-to-face meeting (on a screen or in person!) and learn about camp first-hand from directors or members of the leadership team.
Why is meeting camp leadership so important? We’ve always believed that camps are run from the top down, and that owners or directors and their leadership teams are an important window into camp culture. They set the tone for the camp’s philosophy, as well as the staff and families camps attract. So, meeting with leaders is hugely helpful in a time where visiting camps in person or in session are not possible. Additionally, the connection and chemistry you feel to those running the camp is one of the most important factors in the decision making process, especially this year when communication and safety is top priority for parents!
One of the top questions parents ask us when we work together is how to get a real feel for the kind of children that attend and thrive at the camps or programs they are looking at. These are some of the intangible qualities that you can’t always get from just a website or video. This year, parents want assistance in figuring out this piece of the puzzle, plus understanding the COVID-related plans and protocols camps will implement.
After a long stretch of time indoors, so much of our lives are spent plugged-in and disconnected from most real social interactions. To that end, we believe in the power, value, and importance of the camp experience more than ever. Day camps, sleepaway camps, or overnight summer programs are a true gift, and our kids have never needed it more! From second graders to high school seniors, there’s an experience to suit every age, interest, and passion this summer.
Summer 365’s service was created with one goal in mind: to help families find the perfect and best fit summer experience. And like a good camp friend, we’re here for you whenever you’re ready. We’ve supported so many families we work with this year in particular by helping be their eyes and ears and sounding board. Just remember: we’re all in this together. To sunnier days ahead… summer 2021 is looking incredibly bright!
Summer 365 is the leading consulting service created by parents for parents with a customized and holistic approach to finding the best fit summer experience for each child and family. We believe in the transformative power of a positive summer experience away from home. Our team of summer camp and program experts have insider knowledge on over 500 top sleepaway camps and summer programs for children and teens 7-18. Our service makes it easier for parents to navigate the search process to find whatever you’re looking for whether it’s a traditional or specialty sleepaway camp, community service, performing arts, enrichment, wilderness, or language immersion program. The right match ensures your peace of mind — and a summer they’ll never forget.
As trusted advisors, beyond navigating the camp search process, we love sharing information, tips, advice, and events to help parents in this new chapter of their parenting journey!
Join us March 16 and 17, 2021 for our Summer ‘21 Homecoming Event to hear from featured experts in and connected to the camp and summer program industry addressing all the most important topics on all of our minds as we plan, prepare, and get educated about summer ’21 and all that sleepaway camp will bring this year.