When the final school bell of the year rings at the end of May, children will look forward to a summer free of homework, early to-bed-early-to-rise, and all the other nagging regimens of the school year. Creating a solid learning environment for the kids during the summer should be planned long before the school books are put on the shelf for the summer.
Summer camps can be a great alternative to the boredom of unplanned days. They can be instructive or entertaining, challenging or relaxing, if the itinerary matches the camper’s interests.
There are two types of camps: specialty and general camps. The latter offer an assortment of activities from swimming to soccer, and go-carting to kiting. Specialty camps are single purpose camps whose goal is to increase the camper’s skill in a specific area and are often known as clinics. The most popular are associated with professional athletes, i.e., Willis Reed‘s Basketball Camp, Joe Namath‘s Football camps, etc.
Fees for private camps vary — many charge as much as $2,000 for an eight-week session. Since this is quite an investment, it is wise to explore the quality of the camp’s facilities. Many camps boast of Olympic size swimming pools— but offer little else. Camp enmities, such as canteens and sleeping quarters are important, as is the ratio of staffers to campers, which indicates how well supervised and personal the instruction at a camp will be. That information isn’t always volunteered, so be sure to ask. Even picky questions about toilet and shower facilities, as well as laundry and hygienic standards are key, because these items are not always included in the fee.
Discuss the camp’s safety record, and get details about insurance and liabilities. Medical facilities and the presence of a good doctor are also important considerations.
Feel free to ask camp counselors about themselves and their goals. A visit to the camp and a talk with someone who has sent their child there will help narrow down your choice.
If the price of private camps are somewhat steep, there are a host of day camps in the Big Apple that provide as much entertainment and camaraderie as private camps outside the city. Private instruction in sports and other activities are also available in town, and at reasonable rates. The YMCA (all branches), Minisink Town House, and Boy’s Harbor all have excellent programs. Their programs can be used to measure other camps.
Willie Goodwin, program coordinator at the YMCA’s Harlem Branch, stresses cultural enrichment as a key to his program’s success, as youngsters from the community are exposed to as many cultural things outside the Harlem community as possible. In addition, the $20, eight-week program for children between the ages of 7 and 13 has the standard day camp fare of beaches, and parks. Arts and crafts are reserved for rainy days.
Alane McCahey, associate youth director at the YMCA’s West Side Branch, sees day camp as a way to introduce children to new things. Among the programs here are Gymnastics Day Camp. Teen Travel Camps, where campers leave the city Monday through Thursdays, cost $490 for a four-week period. Trips as far west as Pennsylvania, north to Canada, and south to the nation’s capital are included.
Camp is a fun experience. Whether a private camp or day camp is chosen, both, if well organized, provide mental and physical stimulation for your child. Make plans early because the best camps have limited enrollment. Since your children are going to have lots of extra time this summer, why not plan to spend some time with them yourself? Counselors may be qualified, but they can never equal the value of your love and attention.
For more information about camps, contact:
Association of Independent camps
55 West 42nd Street
New York, NY 10026
American Camping Association
225 Park Avenue South
New York, New York 10003
Boy Scouts of America Council Office
345 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014
Harlem Branch, YMCA
180 West 135th Street
New York, NY 10030
Attn: Willie Goodwin, Program Director
Minisink Town House
646 Lenox Ave
New York, New York 10037 368-8400
Harlem Branch YMCA
180 West 135th St
New York, N.Y. 10037