Summer Camp isn't just about having fun and killing time...it's also about a meaningful camp experience for your child.
Here is a great article from L.A. Parent Magazine called "Rethinking Summer Camp" and how camp can bring out the best in every child. The article is online now and will be available in L.A. Parent's print edition starting February 1.
When school's out for summer, parents send their kids to camp. But how young is too young for your child's first camp experience?
It happens every year. School ends in June, and parents scramble to line up summer programs for their kids.
Some families send their kids to camp because it's fun. For other families, summer camp fills as a basic childcare need, especially in families where both parents work.
But what if your child is too young for camp? Or maybe a better question is, how young is too young for your child's first camp experience?
Your top consideration before sending your child to camp for the first time
If you're thinking of send your child to camp this summer for the very first time, you have a lot to think about. Every family has their own unique set of circumstances.
For example, if finances are an issue for your family, you may want to find a summer program that costs less than others. Or maybe finding a camp close to home is your priority, so that you have the comfort of knowing your child is always close by .
Those are just two examples, among many others, of various points to consider when picking a summer camp for the first time, and of course considerations will differ from family to family.
But there is also one common question every family needs to ask themselves before sending their child to summer camp for the first time: "Is my child physically, socially, and emotionally READY for camp?"
Since every child's different, every family will answer this crucial question differently. If your child is fairly independent, is accustomed to being away from home for extended periods of time, and has lots of friends or older siblings, they may very well be ready for camp.
On the other hand, if your son or daughter gets homesick easily, has trouble making friends, or simply has not had too much social exposure to other kids or people yet, you may want to wait another year or two before signing up for camp. (The reason we suggest waiting is because you want your kids to have a great camp experience right from the start, which would be extremely difficult if they have trouble separating from you, etc. And if they don't enjoy camp from the beginning, they may never want to go back again. Not good!)
Day Camp or Sleepaway Camp?
Let's assume your child has passed the initial litmus test of being "ready" for camp. Your next decision is what kind of camp to send them to.
In general, you can choose between a day camp or sleepaway camp.
It's really up to you, but in our humble opinion, unless our child is on the older side (at least 9 or 10) and mature, day camps may be your best choice in terms of an initial camp experience. That's because day camps are typically local and close to you, meaning your child will only be gone for a few hours before returning home from camp later the same day. This can be a very comforting feeling for both you and your child especially if it's the first time he or she will be "away" from home for the first time.
Conversely, if you choose a sleepaway camp, your child will actually be living at camp for up to a week or more depending on the length of the camp session you choose. As you can imagine, an experience like this can be somewhat intimidating and tough for a youngster who's away from his or her mom or dad for the first time ever.
L.A.'s got camps for every child
If you are considering sending your child to camp for the first time this summer, we hope this information has been helpful as an initial starting point in your camp search. Los Angeles is loaded with various day camps and overnight camps (and lots of other kinds of camps, too!) -- some of which even specialize in serving first-time campers -- so we know you'll find a great program soon. But if you find you need any additional assistance finding a camp for your first-time camper, let us know and we'll do our best to help.
Want to be a camp counselor this summer? Here's how to get a summer camp job.
Winter is just getting started, but camps have already begun hiring staff for this summer. If you are interested in being a camp counselor this year, now's the time to start looking.
The reason you need to begin your job search now is twofold.
First, hiring quality staff is always one of a camp director's biggest challenges, so they typically aim to fill their available spots sooner rather than later. In other words, when a "good" applicant comes along, they usually get hired quickly, so you want to be sure you get noticed by the camp director as soon as possible.
Second -- and this is somewhat related to the first point above -- there are only a limited number of available camp counselor jobs to go around.
Some of the larger camps in town may have 100 or more spots available, while the smaller ones may only have one or two. In either case, the number of available positions are finite.
What does that mean for you? The early bird gets the worm! Many other people just like you have already begun applying for jobs at summer camps in L.A. But as long as you start your job search soon, you still have a great chance to make sure you're among the first wave of applicants the camp director sees.
Camp Staff Websites
By now you may be wondering where to start your job search. We will try to point you in the right direction!
If there are specific camps or programs that interest you, we suggest visiting their websites. That's because most camps have dedicated job information pages on their sites, including employment applications where you can apply for a job online. After submitting your application, you can generally expect to hear from the camp within a few days as to the next steps in the process, such as setting up an interview with the camp director.
Now if you don't have any particular camps your interested in, and you'll be happy to be a camp counselor wherever you can get a job, there's a number of job boards you can visit where camps post available positions so you can see what's available and apply.
Here's two to get you started:
Los Angeles Day Camp Jobs
Indeed.com's L.A. Summer Camps Job Board
The words "Summer Camp" can mean different things to different people. It's important to note, though, that what kids take away from the camp experience itself is what matters most, not the actual things kids DO at camp or WHERE the camp takes place.
If you went to camp when you were a kid, you probably have specific memories of the program you attended, what it looked like, the friends you made, the counselors you had, and the activities you enjoyed while you were there.
If someone were to ask you today what summer camp means to you, your definition would probably be shaped by the camp experience (or experiences) you had as a child.
Well, guess what? We've been curious lately about other people's thoughts and opinions as to what summer camp means to them, so today we decided to do something about it. We hit the streets (it was rainy today here in L.A.!) and flagged down a few strangers just to ask how they'd describe a typical summer camp setting.
Guess what? The vast majority said when they think of camp, they picture rustic, ranch-type properties with lakes, mess-halls, cabins, canoes, horseback riding, s'mores, and songs around the campfire.
That's pretty classic image of a traditional summer camp program, don't you think?
But there's just one thing we hope you'll remember.
Even though "traditional" camps are fun, fun, fun, there's untold numbers of other kinds camps, and they all provide meaningful experiences for kids. In other words, you don't have to send your child to a "traditional" camp in order for them to have the best summer of their lives!
Here's what I mean.
What if your son really loves music? Why not send him to a music summer camp?
If your daughter loves cooking, a cooking summer camp might be just up her ally.
Or maybe you have another child who loves gymnastics. She'd probably be happy as a calm at a gymnastics camp program.
The main point to keep in mind is that there are many kinds of summer programs here in L.A. beyond just the traditional summer programs you might envision. All you need to do is look around, ask your friends, or do an online search for whatever kind of program your child might be interested in and you will quickly find one that meets your needs.
Camps and camp directors have different views and policies as to whether kids should be allowed to bring cell phones to camp. What's YOUR opinion?
Most kids these days haven't gone a day in their lives without sending a text, using an app, or playing a video game on their cell phones.
It's a fact of life. Most kids (and their parents) SLEEP with their cell phones within arms reach. Which begs the question, should cell phones be allowed at summer camp?
Camp directors have differing opinions, and it's become a hotly debated topic within camp circles the past several years. Some camps strictly forbid cell phones. Others say, why not?
Bottom line, whatever camp you choose is sure to have a firm policy one way or the other regarding cell phone use. You (and your child) will need to comply with that policy, so if sending your to a program that allows cell phones is important to you, be sure you're clear on the camp's policy before you sign up. This way you'll avoid any potential problems later, such as your child's phone being confiscated by the camp director, or any other potential consequences that might come up as a result of not following directions.
So, how do YOU feel about cell phones at summer camp? Good idea? Bad? Leave a comment to let us know!
Looking for a teen summer program this year? Opportunities abound for entertainment, safety and fun.
In many cases as kids get older they may start feeling like they're too old for camp. Parents might feel this way too, especially those who've investigated potential programs but are having a tough time finding anything suitable for their teenage son or daughter.
But the fact remains there are many good summer programs for teens in L.A. You just need to know where to look.
The CBS Los Angeles Website posted a recent article on the best summer day camps in LA for teens. This article is a good starting point to help you find a worthwhile program
There are many additional online resources, and you might consider your friends or other people you know who have teenagers close in age to yours where they're sending them to camp this year. They may be able to offer some valuable tips and suggestions you may not have considered yet.
The number one thing to note is that you can always find worthwhile summer programs for your teenage camper this summer. Even though they may be getting older, there's still many fun summer programs designed just for them.
Blog posts by Cora Carter of L.A. Summer Camps.com