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How to pick a summer camp for a good first time away from home

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Courtesy of Songadeewin of Keewaydin.

(Read caption) Knowing how to pick a summer camp can help eliminate parent and kid stress as well as make for a good first time away from home. Songadeewin of Keewaydin campers were ready for a canoe outing in this 2003 photo from the Salisbury, Vt. camp.

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My family and I all adored summer camp, which has provided each of us with many of our warmest childhood memories. Camp is a unique and special place, often quite unlike any other in one’s life. Camp can be a place to try new things, experience nature in an unmediated and unhurried way, meet people one wouldn’t ordinarily be exposed to, experience personal growth and, above all, have a lot of pure, all-out fun.

There are many wonderful summer camps and, although we’re inching toward summer, many still have openings. It’s not too late to choose a great one. So, how do you choose?

Involve Kids in the Decision

Unless they’re very young, most children will have an opinion about the type of camp experience that appeals to them. Try to have some brochures, DVDs or web sites you can look at together. These might come from a local camp fair, or be downloaded from the Internet. Sometimes the simplest things capture children’s imaginations, such as the local park and recreation program that offers an Aloha Week with water play. At the same time, exposing them to a new experience, at the right age, can be very beneficial.

Older children usually know when they’re ready for a “sleepaway” camp, as opposed to a day camp. Day camp experience can help prepare kids for sleepover camp, particularly as a lot of day camps offer overnight outings of increasing length and distance as children get older.

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