by Annette Pinder
Some of my fondest memories come from my summer camp experiences. I especially loved overnight camp, where I participated in theatre, talent shows, made new friends, played tricks on the counselors, and flirted with the boys. I also ate foods I’d never tried before, learned better table manners, and loved color war, in which teams competed with one another in silly races, games, and songs.
So, which camp is right for you and your child? A quick Google search results in over 40 camps in the Greater Buffalo area. Check out Kids Out and About at https://tinyurl.com/3f3hm4t9 for information. You’ll find camps that focus on art, dance, theatre, sports, STEM, day camps, and overnight camps. However, there are many factors to consider when it comes to picking the right camp. It’s important to ask your children about the type of camp experience that excites them. Is it a specialty camp that focuses on one particular sport or activity? Is it an outdoor camp, overnight camp, or day camp? Whatever you do, include your child in the decision-making process.
Realize that your expectations regarding a camp experience are just as important as your child’s. Are you ready for your child to sleepaway for two weeks, or do you want them at home every night? Also, consider if your child is ready to go to camp. It is important to consider safety, by researching whether the summer program is licensed through the Department of Health. There are programs in the community that use the word camp, but are not licensed. A permit is issued only when the camp complies with the state’s health regulations. Also, consider is whether the camp is accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA). Assuring ACA accreditation means that the camp meets the highest standard for health and safety.
The camp you choose should also offer the type of communication that best suits you and your family. Is the camp director accessible? Do staff return calls and emails? How will you be informed regarding events that are happening at camp? Also, what is the camp’s philosophy on helping children to achieve their goals? Does the camp focus on diversity and inclusion?
Summer camp is a unique experience that is all about learning and growing — for you and your child! Know that you can interview the camp just as you would a caretaker or prospective employee. Make sure you have the answers you are looking for.
Many local camps have begun their registration process. For those who love theatre, check out Academy of Theatre Arts at https://academyoftheatrearts.com. For those interested in an all-girls camp, check out all that Buffalo Seminary, which offers a fashion lab experience, cooking classes, sailing, riding, and more at www.buffaloseminary.org/sas/summeratsem. For those who enjoy a variety of activities, including swimming, archery, ceramics, dance, fishing, a ropes course, photojournalism, singing, sports, and more, visit Camp Centerland at www.campcenterland.org. To this day, I look back on my own camp days knowing that the experiences I had there are ones that I will never forget.