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Parents plug in to kids at camp

Mom and Dad now know what's happening with their kids via e-mail and secured websites.

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CAPTURED IN ACTION: A counselor, with camera, sizes up her subject on the basketball court at Camp Echo in Burlingham, N.Y. The camp tries to take pictures of each camper for a website parents can view.

Ashley Twiggs

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Even though Adam Holland's 11-year-old daughter left for camp weeks ago, he's seen a lot of her this summer. Zoe is 85 miles away at Camp Echo in Burlingham, N.Y., but from his New York City apartment, Mr. Holland has watched her swim, play soccer, kayak, eat breakfast on the beach, and perform in a camp skit.

"The camp puts literally hundreds of pictures on their website every day," he says. "All I need to do is turn on my computer and there she is."

The ubiquity of broadband Internet and digital cameras has connected Mom and Dad to the previously parent-free bubble of summer camp. Now counselors can capture all the group dances, jubilant laughs, and general camper hijinks in photos and video they post on secure websites for parents.

"A lot of camps are giving parents new options on how to check in and communicate with their children while at camp," says Peg Smith, director of the American Camp Association. "And as more parents ask for these options, more camps are plugging in."

For the past several years, camps have weaved the World Wide Web into their summer packages. This summer, 82 percent of camps accredited by the American Camp Association have websites and 92 percent have their own e-mail address, according to Ms. Smith.

Hundreds have turned to services like eCamp and Bunk1, which provide camps with easy e-mail tools, digital-video postcards, and Holland's personal favorite, daily photo galleries.

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