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NEW YORK

Parenting

NYParenting.com | Where Every Child Matters

Summer Guide Camps for kids of all ages | 2018


CLIMBING THE ROCK WALL STARTS HERE. SO DOES SELF-CONFIDENCE. Tackling our rock wall or climbing course. Picking vegetables in our garden. Learning sportsmanship on our soccer fields or life-saving maneuvers in our Olympic-sized swimming pool. Regardless of the activity, at Camp Settoga, kids come in great, and leave phenomenal. Just 25 minutes over the GW Bridge. Register now for Summer 2018 with code NYPARENTING and save $150. CAMPSETTOGA.ORG | 646.505.4430 A PROUD PARTNER OF UJA-FEDERATION OF NEW YORK


New Country Day Camp Transportation from Manhattan and Brooklyn is provided to Staten Island’s 75-acre Henry Kaufmann Campground, where swimming pools, hiking trails, and open meadows set the scene for a summer of adventure and enrichment through Jewish sensibilities

Campers entering K-8th grades Swimming 2 periods daily Camp provided lunch and a�ernoon snack served 5 days per week 10 specialized unit ac�vi�es taught by experienced staff

Email: newcountry@14streety.org

Phone: 646-395-4357

www.newcountrydaycamp.org 2018 | NYParenting.com

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NEW Y

Contents

Pare NEW YORK

Parenting Staff

Camp Guide 8 The 8 best things about camp By Jess Michaels

12 Are they ready for camp?

How to know if this summer is the right time for them By Jess Michaels

16 Why camp is important for your

child’s development

By Jess Michaels

22 Inspired & informed

Choose the perfect camp for each child in the family By Christina Katz

26 ‘Homesick and Happy’

Author explores how kids benefit from sleep-away camp

Publisher & Executive editor: Susan Weiss Publisher & business manager: Clifford Luster Managing Editor: Vince DiMiceli Assistant Editors: Courtney Donahue, James Harney Calendar Editor: Danielle Sullivan Art Director: Leah Mitch Production staff: Arthur Arutyunov, Daria Avvento, Marcus Cedeno, Gardy Charles, Earl Ferrer, John Napoli, Mark Ramos Sales: Erin Brof, Mary Cassidy, Shelli GoldbergPeck, Tom Chillemi, Jay Pelc operations associate: Tina Felicetti

Community News Group CEO: Les Goodstein President & Publisher: Jennifer Goodstein

Contact information ADVERTISING SALES (718) 260–4554 Family@nyparenting.com or Susan@nyparenting.com Circulation (718) 260–8336 TFelicetti@cnglocal.com Address New York Parenting • CNG 1 MetroTech Center North, 10th Floor Brooklyn, NY 11201

www.NYParenting.com

By Allison Plitt

30 What to ask

Question camp policies to create a happy summer By Danielle Sullivan

32 How to calm first-time camper

fears

By Dr. Marcie Beigel

4

New York Parenting Summer Guide | 2018

New York Parenting Annual Guide is published annually. Copyright©2018. No part of our contents may be reproduced without permission from the publisher.


SUMMER GROWTH SPURT Usdan is an award-winning day camp for students ages 4-18 to explore music, dance, theater, visual arts, sports and more on our Long Island campus in the woods. JOIN US FOR AN OPEN HOUSE: Sunday, February 11 or Sunday, March 18. Reservations required. Visit usdan.org/visit.

WHEATLEY HEIGHTS, NY 1-833-600-0624 | USDAN.ORG #50YEARSOFU

FOR $100 OFF NEW STUDENT TUITION USE PROMO CODE: NYPARENT 2018 | NYParenting.com

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A SUMMER

THAT LASTS

A LIFETIME

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Soccer Shots offers developmentallyappropriate camps for children aged 4-8.

CAMPS START SOON! Enroll at soccershots.org

• • • • • • •

Schools Out Camp: Jan. 15 Snowy Soccer Camp: Feb. 19-23 Polar Bear Camp: Feb. 16 Spring Kick Camp: Apr. 2-6 Summer Kick Off Camp: July 9-13 Fun in the Sun Camp: July 23-27 End of Summer Camp: Aug. 13-17

Visit soccershots.org to learn more and find the program that is right for your child. 6

New York Parenting Summer Guide | 2018

Ag A ge es s

7--17 7 17 K EK EEK WEE 3, 4 & 7 WE 2,, 3, 2

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NEW HAMPSHIRE 978.225.3293


YOUR SUMMER YOUR WAY. Creating memorable experiences for more than 64 years.

Sign up your child today! Save up to $200 on the 2018 season. Offer ends Feb 28. Neighborhood pickups, round-trip transportation, hot lunch and towel service all included.

92Y.org/Camps • 212.415.5573 An agency of UJA-Federation 2018 | NYParenting.com

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camp Guide

The

8

best things about camp

By Jess Michaels

C

amp is one of the most amazing experiences a child can have, and it goes way beyond just having the chance to swim and play sports all day. It’s hard to narrow down the reasons why camp is so great, but here is a list of the top eight best things about camp:

1 8

Gain skills in a range of activities. At camp, your child will participate

New York Parenting Summer Guide | 2018

in a variety of activities such as ceramics, swimming, go-karts, ropes course, tennis, and more. Each day will be filled with trying new activities that he or she has never done before.

2

Build self-esteem. Children acquire new skills at camp and watch themselves improve each day throughout the summer. They are also part of a summer camp community, which is supportive and encouraging. Both help build their selfesteem.


2018 | NYParenting.com

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Camp Guide

3

Unplug from technology. Today more than ever, children need to disconnect from their phones and tablets and focus on face-to-face communication. The majority of summer camps have a no-technology rule, which allows for a much-needed break from screens and more time for true relationship building.

4

Reinvention. At home, children have gone to school with the same kids for years and may be labeled as the quiet or the athletic child. Camp is an accepting community where your child can be his true self — or even reinvent himself.

5

Meet new people. Camp fosters deep friendships and allows children to meet kids from different communities, as well as from around the world. It gives them the opportunity to relate to people of all ages.

6

Independence. Children today are in constant contact with their parents through texting and cellphone calls. Camp

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New York Parenting Summer Guide | 2018

allows for a healthy separation from their parents, fostering independence.

7

Traditions. Many camps celebrate special traditions and rituals each summer, such as color war, Olympics, and singing songs that have been sung for generations. By partaking in these activities, kids connect to their camp and those who came before them.

8

Camp is fun. At camp, children are allowed to play in a safe and nurturing environment, allowing them to just be kids. Play is a powerful form of learning that contributes to a child’s healthy physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development. Jess Michaels is the director of communications for the American Camp Association, New York and New Jersey, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the summer camp experience. Parents looking for a camp for their child can contact the organization for free, one-on-one advice in finding a camp at (212) 391–5208.


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Camp Guide

Are they ready for camp? How to know if this summer is the right time for them By Jess Michaels

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our child going to summer camp for the first time is a big step in her life. So how do you know when it’s the right time to send your child to camp? The American Camp Association, New York and New Jersey, recommends that families consider the following when figuring out whether their children are ready for camp and how to prepare for the experience: Age You want to consider your child’s age when considering camp. Day camps are designed for children 3 years old and up. Kids can go to sleep-away camp at the age of 7. But families should keep in mind that just because a child

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New York Parenting Summer Guide | 2018

is 7 years old doesn’t mean she is emotionally ready for sleep-away camp. Interest and readiness Talk to your child and assess her readiness. How did your child become interested in going to camp? Is she excited about camp? Is she comfortable separating from you? Answering these questions will help you determine if your child is both interested and ready for camp. Remember, the decision to go to camp should be made together. Keep in mind that the more involved children are in the process, the more ownership they feel. This helps ease concerns about camp, and can help make a child’s camp experience more successful.


Workshops For Teens 13-18

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Intermediate/Advanced Teen Intensive

2018

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Dance Camps

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For Ages 6-12

Creative Dance

Two-week camps

Movement, music, improvisation, and basic dance steps

Variety of dance disciplines including ballet, modern, hip hop, jazz and tap

For Ages 18 months-4 years • Parent & Toddler Movement

markmorrisdancegroup.org/summer-dance 3 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn, NY

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2018 | NYParenting.com

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Camp Guide

Day or sleep-away If you are considering sleep-away camp, make sure your child has had successful overnights away from home with friends and relatives. Were these overnights positive experiences? You want to make sure your child is mature enough to go away for an extended period of time and that she can do certain things independently — like showering, getting dressed, and brushing her teeth.

home visit. This will allow you to get to know the director and for your child to get a feel for the program. Positive messages It is important for parents to share positive messages about summer camp. It is common for a child to have some apprehension about camp, just like she would for any first experience. Encourage her to talk about these feelings. Let her know you are confident in her ability to have a wonderful experience.

Expectations Learn about the camp program ahead of time and create positive expectations for your child. Talk about it leading up to the beginning of camp. When you can, tour the site before registering. Touring allows children to get a feel for the location and can build her excitement while also giving her a chance to get to know the camp. You can also ask a camp director to do a

Jess Michaels is the director of communications for the American Camp Association, New York and New Jersey, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the summer camp experience. Parents looking for a camp for their child can contact Placement Specialist Renee Flax for free, one-on-one advice in finding a camp at (212) 391–5208. Or visit searchforacamp.org to search accredited camps.

UMMER SUMMER 2018 2018SUMMER 2018

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*Dates and offerings vary by location Dates *Dates andand offerings offerings varyvary by location by location

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AQUATICS AQUATICS CAMP CAMP

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New York Parenting Summer Guide | 2018

RIS

AQUATICS EXTEND EXTEND CAMP YOUR YOUR DAY DAY th RISING GRADES FUNPREK-10 FUN CONTINUED CONTINUED

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2018 | NYParenting.com

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Camp Guide

Why camp is important for your child’s development By Jess Michaels

E

veryone knows that camp is fun, but what many people don’t consider is that camp provides children with the opportunity to gain so much more than just a great summer outdoors! Here are just a few of the reasons why camp is important for your child’s development: Kids build upon lessons you’ve instilled Feel confident that you have taught your child well and everything you instilled in her will stay intact while at camp. Separation from you will give your child confidence and the ability to problem solve without your help. They gain skills to become successful adults The Partnership for 21st Century Learning, a group of businesses, education leaders, and policymakers including the U.S. Department of Education, AOL Time Warner Foundation, Apple Computer, Inc., Cisco Systems, Inc., and others, found there is a large gap between the knowledge students learn in school and the skills they need to be successful in the 21st century. They performed extensive research on the skills needed to become successful adults in life and work and many of the essential skills needed for success — including oral communication, collaboration, work ethic, creativity, leadership, social skills, problem solving, and critical thinking — are all fostered at camp. School doesn’t educate the whole child The traditional classroom doesn’t address the whole child, as there is more to learning than just testing well and achieving good grades. Camp is one of the most powerful learning environments, and it’s where a child’s social

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New York Parenting Summer Guide | 2018

education takes place. Camp provides children with the opportunity to try new activities, and when they succeed at these new endeavors, they build self-esteem. They also build social skills and problem-solving skills by being part of a supportive community and taking part in activities together. They are challenged at camp every day — whether playing soccer, honing their tennis serve, improving their swim strokes, or trying out for the play. Camp allows them to unplug from technology Today’s children spend more than 7.5 hours a day engaged in media, which prevents them from taking part in hands-on activities and


YMCA

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NEW YORK CITY’S YMCA

ymcanyc.org/camp

GO EAST THIS SUMMER! (East River & 23rd St. that is...) Although not quite the Hamptons, the BIS-NY Summer �amp o�ers daily swim instruc�on at our on-site pool, the relaxing breeze and quiet of our waterfront campus, and the non-stop fun and ac�vity of our themed summer camp to keep young hands and minds ac�ve over the summer. Join us and escape this summer! When: June 25th - July 20th 2018 - Flexible weekly enrollment �am - �pm (�ate �lub op�on un�l 5.30pm) For: Boys & Girls 3 - 10 years old ▪ www.bis-ny.org/summer-camp ▪ ▪ camp@bis-ny.org ▪ (212) 481-2700 ▪ The Bri�sh Interna�onal School of New York 20 Waterside Plaza, East 23rd St, NY, NY, 10010 2018 | NYParenting.com

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Camp Guide

socializing with other children. The majority of summer camps ban most technology, including television, smartphones, iPads, and computers. Taking a break from technology over the summer allows children to focus on learning new skills, taking part in social interactions, and communicating face-to-face instead of through a screen. Kids need to play for social and emotional development Today’s children are very busy with homework and after-school activities without much time for unstructured play. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that free and unstructured play is healthy and essential for helping children reach important social, emotional, and cognitive developmental milestones, as well as helping them manage stress. Traditional summer camps give children plenty of opportunities

to play, which leads to healthy emotional and social development. Children can reinvent themselves at camp At home, children go to school with the same kids for years and may be labeled as the shy or studious one. At day or sleep-away camp, children are surrounded by new people and can reinvent themselves and become the athletic child or the outgoing kid. Camp is an accepting community where a child can be herself. Jess Michaels is the director of communications for the American Camp Association, New York and New Jersey, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the summer camp experience. Parents looking for a camp for their child can contact the organization for free, one-on-one advice in finding a camp at (212) 391–5208.

BALLET & THEATER SUMMER DAY CAMP

Ballet, drama, music, puppetry, costume shop, yoga, story time, outdoor activities and more! Select the days and weeks that work for you! - July 9-August 31 9:30am-2:30pm (drop off 9-9:30am)

Movement Mini-Camp (9:30am-12:30pm) and

Movement & Art Camp also available

The Ballet Club 328 East 61st Street New York, NY 10065

Call 917-281-1030 or email info@theballetclub.com for more information Visit our website: www.theballetclub.com and register online today! 18

New York Parenting Summer Guide | 2018


Camp Lee Mar Camp Lee Mar, located in the beautiful Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, is a coed overnight camp for children and teenagers (from 7 to 21) with mild to moderate developmental challenges.

A Life Changing Experience! 66th

Season! 2018 Dates: June 23 – August 10 • www.leemar.com COME OUTSIDE AND PLAY!

• Fun traditional summer • Caring Nurturing Staff camp activities • Lee Mar L.I.F.E. • Academics (Living Independently Functional Education) • Speech and language Program. Launched therapy during the summer • Daily living skills of 2015, the unique • Teenage campers enjoy feature of our L.I.F.E. social dancing every week Program incorporates with an end-of-summer everyday living skills “Prom” into a personalized daily • Optional trips during the program. We have a fully summer functional apartment • Exceptional facilities specifically for this featuring air conditioned program with a large bunks and buildings kitchen, washer and dryer, • Junior Olympic heated two bathrooms, a living pool room and bedroom.

Winter Office: Camp Lee Mar Ph: 215-658-1708 • Fax: 215-658-1710 Email: ari@leemar.com Like us on Facebook

Since 1887, children of all ages have come to Trail Blazers to unplug from screens and connect to nature, to themselves, and to each other. We believe in play and in being outdoors. REGISTRATION IS OPEN FOR SUMMER DAY CAMP AND OVERNIGHT CAMP ENROLL ONLINE AT WWW.TRAILBLAZERS.ORG

STEM Camps

brand new topics!

summer 2018

real world math + science... scien fun! out of this world wo

• archaeology

• biorobotics

• marine biology

• mBot robotics

• coding with Scratch Jr

• architecture

• coding with Scratch

• sports science

• coding with Python

• physics

• coding with App Inventor

Sign up for Launch’s exciting and educational one-week STEM summer camps with topics rotating weekly! Also at Launch: Math Programs • STEM Classes • Holiday Camps • Private Instruction Multiple Manhattan Locations • www.launchmath.com • 212-600-1010 • info@launchmath.com 2018 | NYParenting.com

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The Nation’s #1 Sports Broadcasting Camp! is back for our 13th year

July 9–13, 2018 Montclair State University

Boys & Girls 10–18

Day & Residential options available

• Learn from the Pros • Meet sports celebrities • Make play-by-play tapes, reporting tapes & sports anchor tapes from TV studio And much more!

For more information, call 800-319-0884 or visit www.playbyplaycamps.com

WHERE THE ADVENTURE

BEGINS!

Exploring, hiking, sailing, canoeing, kayaking, pottery, archery, tennis, and more!

Kieve Camp for Boys Wavus Camp for Girls

On Damariscotta Lake, Maine • 26 days for 10–16-year-olds • 10-day intro for 8–9-year-olds • Beautiful lakeside cabins • Awesome in-camp activities • Exciting wilderness trips Kieve-Wavus Education, Inc. a non-profit corporation P.O. Box 169, Nobleboro, ME 04555 207-563-5172 kievewavus.org

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www.leselfes.com 2018 | NYParenting.com

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Camp Guide

Inspired & informed Choose the perfect camp for each child in the family By Christina Katz

A

mistake parents can make when choosing a camp is confusing their needs with their child’s. If you want your child to be happy at camp, focus on who he or she is, rather than on who you were as a camper. Your goal is to create a harmonious relationship between each of your children and the camp experience, not for your child to follow in your well-worn hiking boots. If going to camp is an option for your child, that’s wonderful. But don’t force camp on a child who is terrified of the idea. At the same time, feel free to plant the seed in your children’s minds from an early age that when she is ready for camp, it will be a fun, life-enhancing adventure. If older siblings or friends of the family have gone to camp and enjoyed the experience, younger siblings may be eager to go. But if your child is not enthusiastic, feel free to wait until your child feels brave enough to make the leap. Camp considerations Feel free to share your camp experiences and what you got out of them with your kids, and invite others in the family to do the same. At the same time, communicate clearly your understanding that your child is not you, and that you like and respect the person your child is. Sending a child to camp to correct things about her is backwards. The person who needs to change his attitude in this scenario is the parent, not the child. If you have worries or concerns about your child, don’t send your child to camp to address those feelings. Find someone you can talk to, so you can learn to accept your child for who she is and meet her range of needs. Kids who are secure in their own skin thrive at camp, whereas those who are insecure and anxious may flounder. A range of choices Sending kids to camp may have been your

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New York Parenting Summer Guide | 2018

Types of camps This list breaks types of camps down into the most basic types. Camps can become much more specialized as you explore within categories, so this list is just to help you get started considering your options: • Day • Overnight • Sports • Education • Leadership • Technology • Arts •  Wilderness

•  Girls •  Boys •  Co-ed •  Family •  Religious • Traditional • Specialized • School vacation

idea, but in order for kids to feel good about the adventure, they need to buy in, as well. The first question to ask yourself is, which types of camp are best suited to your child’s physical, emotional, and mental needs? Would day camp or overnight camp be the better choice at this developmental stage? If choosing overnight camp, would your child prefer to be close or far from home? Also, consider the mission and style of the camp. Would your child prefer to rough it for a week in the White Mountains or stay in a cozy, family-style camp with modern amenities closer to home? Parents may need to let go of the idea that what was good for them as children is good for their kids. What was good for you as a child may traumatize a sensitive child or a child with special needs. Strive to meet your kids where they are. Parents may experience some grieving in letting go of preconceived notions of sharing similar experiences with their children. But try to leave the past in the past, so you can make the healthiest choices for your family in the present. For example, if you were a rugged and athletic child, these traits may have been


widely admired, as they usually are. If your family of origin had a bias against sensitive or artsy kids, you will want to be aware of a possible unconscious tendency in yourself. You may also need to steel your mind against

what others think about who your child is. You are not taking a poll. This is not the 1950s or even the 1980s. Try to view the camp landscape through the eyes of each child instead of through the eyes of others from an 2018 | NYParenting.com

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Camp Guide

outdated point of view. What if you are different from your child in even more profound ways than personality? What if the two of you have very little in common? Would you both crave the same types of camp experiences? Would you even be likely to choose the same camps? Probably not, and this is perfectly okay. Be respectful Children know intuitively when they are liked and accepted. They also know when parts of them are disliked or rejected. To look at a child and compare him or her to your childhood self or to siblings or peers is disrespectful and hurtful. To really see your child and accept him or her means loving and respecting your child as is. Each child is an individual with so much to offer the world. If you choose the best camp for your child, you can relax, knowing the folks in charge will see the value in your child. When you recognize the value in your child, others see it, too. Trying to force a child to be more like you, when the child is not you, may seem harmless and common in our society, but there is a cost. A child can feel when she is being criticized, so even if you are trying to bring the two of you closer together by putting your child through paces you were put through as a kid, your child may feel used and unacknowledged. You cannot send a child who is not like you to camp and get a version of yourself back. Not only does camp not work this way, life doesn’t work this way. Take a good, long look at each of your children. Resist the urge to see them as a version of yourself. None of them are you. There will never be another you in the whole wide world. Once you see, understand, and accept each of your children, then you can work together to choose the perfect camp for each of them. Christina Katz is an author, journalist, and writing coach who has learned that seeing kids as the individuals they truly are always pays off in the long run. She also knows it can be a mistake to do what everyone else is doing, even if that’s what the child wants in the short run.

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New York Parenting Summer Guide | 2018

Individuation workbooks for parents Do your kids a favor and see them for who they truly are. Love each of them to the best of your ability. If you struggle with any of this, admit it, and get some help. Often, parents are so busy taking care of everyone else they sometimes neglect themselves. Individuation is an ongoing process that begins in childhood and continues for a lifetime. Parents can benefit by finding self-expression practices that help them keep up with their needs. When parents take care of their own emotions, the need to project onto children diminishes and healthy boundaries can be restored. These workbooks are a good place to start for any parent who is over-identifying with a son’s or daughter’s choices: • “The Artist’s Way Workbook” by Julia Cameron • “The Creative Journal” by Lucia Capacchione • “Journal To The Self” by Kathleen Adams • “Start Where You Are” by Meera Lee Patel • “The Secret Me” by Shane Windham • “The Inner Child Workbook” by Cathryn L. Taylor


Summer will be here before you know it, less than 180 days! Save up to $200 on registration. The earlier you register the more you save! Learn about Aviator Sports Summer Day Camp at our open houses, at least one a month starting in February.

Highlights • Five daily rotating activities including sports, acting, arts & crafts, photography/ videography, swimming and more! • Four divisions: Junior Camp, Younger Division, Older Division and Teen Division Weekly field trips for Younger, Older and Teen Divisions • Low camper to counselor ratio: 15 campers – 2 General counselors • Hours are 9:00am- 5:00 pm with early drop-off and late pick up options Learn more at AviatorCamps.com or by calling the Camps office at (718) 758-7510

2018 | NYParenting.com

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Camp Guide

‘Homesick and Happy’ Author explores how kids benefit from sleep-away camp By Allison Plitt

T

he beginning of the new year heralds a rite of passage for parents living in the city — choosing a camp for their child to attend in the summer ahead. According to author Dr. Michael Thompson, summer camps can play an important role in a child’s social and emotional development. In his 2012 book published by Ballantine Books, “Homesick and Happy: How Time Away from Parents Can Help a Child Grow,” Thompson writes that as parents are now in constant contact with their children via cellphones, there is a greater need for children to leave their families and homes temporarily and establish their own sense of independence. Besides writing bestselling books about children, Thompson is also a clinical psychologist, lecturer, consultant, and former seventh-grade teacher. To write his book about camp life, he visited about 20 different camps nationwide and interviewed directors, staff members, counselors, and campers as well as former campers and counselors. He had participants fill out questionnaires and observed counselors interacting with campers. Thompson recounts, “Many people who founded camps in the late 1800s did so because they were worried that urbanized youth lacked the strength, fitness, and practical skills of the early pioneers. If that was a concern 130 years ago, it is — or should be — a far greater worry today. Our children, both from the cities and the suburbs, spend an extraordinary amount of time indoors in front of screens. Too many are growing obese and many no longer feel comfortable outdoors, because they spend so little time there.” Because parents are so concerned about the safety of their children, only 13 percent of students walk to and from school every day. Several decades ago, playing outside

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New York Parenting Summer Guide | 2018

in the woods behind your backyard was an adventure for kids. Contrary to these old traditions, Thompson observes, “We have replaced free time with town sports, and the woods and the backyard with the Wii in the rec room.” Believing that not all children may be ready for camp, Thompson writes that an extroverted kid who has no problems making friends and staying in after-school programs is “a good bet for overnight camp.” He adds, “Sending a pessimistic child who has struggled in new social situations to camp might be a high-risk proposition, unless, of course, the child really wants to try it.” The best approach parents can take in choosing a camp is to engage their children in the selection process. Nowadays, there are camps for almost all interests — sports, arts, learning to survive in the wilderness, and even camps for children with physical or learning disabilities. For example, of all the camps Thompson visited and describes in his book, one of the most fascinating to read about is “Camp for All” (campforall.org) based in Burton, Texas. When a parent has a child with special needs, it is difficult for that caregiver to literally hand his child over to a counselor. Camp for All has a competent staff of doctors and nurses that allay the fears of most of these parents in leaving their child alone for the first time in their lives. According to Thompson, Camp for All is a dream come true for most campers. A highlight at the camps is the high-ropes course with a “pulley system, so that children with spinal cord injuries can leave their wheelchairs and scale the heights.” Another underserved group at the camp are the HIV-positive campers who contracted the virus at birth from an HIV-infected mother. Living with the constant threat of an early death, these children are never far from their caregivers.


At Camp for All, HIV-positive campers, most of whom have never been on sleepovers or gone away with friends, all share a cabin with counselors who are also HIV-positive. When the counselors disclose to their campers their own HIV-status, each camper slowly reveals their own condition. When these campers see they have a support system, they “come to believe they have a future.” It is a special bonding process, as most HIV-positive children usually do not disclose their illness for fear of stigma. As Thompson writes, “When the children realize that

everyone there is in the same situation as they are, ‘the walls come down.’ The camp develops a feeling of family and community where … the children ‘don’t have to hide.’ ” Thompson believes the only real drawback to camp is dealing with homesickness, which almost all campers say they experience. Talking about homesickness before camp begins, parents can relate to their children their own experiences of leaving home during the summer as kids and longing to return. When kids get to camp and start writing 2018 | NYParenting.com

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Camp Guide

letters home about wanting to leave, the best thing parents can do is write a letter back acknowledging their child’s discomfort “to make a mental connection.” Children suffering from homesickness should be able to talk to their counselors for help. Most likely, counselors will help prevent campers from feeling isolated. Most camps discourage phone calls and visits from parents. A child should only leave camp if she is “clinically depressed or suicidal.” Thompson says, “It is the very challenge of camp that makes it such a lifechanging experience for so many children. Children have a lot more courage and resilience than we give them credit for. Less than one percent of children leave camp because of homesickness. Kids want to stick it out. They want to be successful.” Campers can also empathize with each other about homesickness. Thompson adds that when adults discuss their childhoods, 80 percent respond that their sweetest memories happened when their parents were not present. Many friendships made at camp can last a lifetime. Counselors usually try to set up safe environments for kids to become friends. Most camps do not allow electronics on site, which “simply opens up a huge amount of space for children to relate to each other, and to adults.” Most of that time is over meals, where food is served cafeteria-style or family-style. As almost 45 percent of family budgets go to restaurants and take-out food, home-cooked meals may be a rare pleasure campers can enjoy. Another surprising statistic is that 66 percent of Americans eat dinner while watching television, so the camp ritual of eating together and talking to each other without electronics is another experience during which campers and counselors can bond together. Because children may feel valued by their parents, “a child’s sense of worth may come from the actions and feeling of others, and not flow from much that he or she does,” Thompson explains. If a child is responsible for the safety of a fellow camper, where he is

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New York Parenting Summer Guide | 2018

securing another kid to a rope on a rock climb or helping a fellow camper seek medical help out in the wilderness, the child begins to feel “valuable.” Without the pressures of school or the expectations of their parents, many kids feel relieved to go to camp. When kids are at camp, they make their own choices without any outside influence from their families. Because they choose their own friends and their own activities, it makes their accomplishments “feel like they own them.” Further creating their own independence, adolescents can even learn skills that their parents themselves have never learned. Some camps allow children to make choices for all their own activities. Campers can even reject all the choices if they want. Accepting and rejecting choices “can be crucial for children who are in the process of creating an identity.” Most adults call this process “finding your identity,” but a camper corrects this phrase, saying, “The self is not something one finds, it is something one creates.” Allison Plitt is a frequent contributor to NY Parenting and lives in Queens with her 10-year-old daughter.


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Learn more and register at: www.hwis.org 175 Riverside Boulevard at 68 th Street, NY • 212-787-8088 2018 | NYParenting.com

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Camp Guide

What to ask Question camp policies to create a happy summer By Danielle Sullivan

P

arenting and raising a family depends on systems. Whether we are sticklers for the rules or lax on restrictions, each family governs in a different way. We each do what works for us, so when you consider a summer camp, trying to match the camp’s philosophy to your own will help create a pleasant summer camp experience for your child and you. For generations, summer camps have been accepting communities where children gain important life skills such as selfconfidence, leadership, and respect for others. And individual guidelines of camp life — such as participation, food rules, technology usage, and dress codes — are a large part of what has allowed camps to maintain these positive environments. With so many options available, a parent’s primary job when selecting a camp for her child all boils down to one thing: the family’s values. While that might not exactly be the first thing that comes to mind, and, rightly so (you may be initially more focused on the practical matters, such as distance from home, counselor-to-camper ratio, and such), consider this: your child will be spending a good portion of the summer under the rules and regulations of someone else, so it is necessary to make sure that your standards and beliefs are in line with the camp. Just as schools have various rules, missions, and principles, so do camps. Naturally, you want to make sure that your child is safe and enjoys the camp experience, but you also want to make sure the camp’s values align with your family’s beliefs, and that your child will get the most he can out of his time there, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Here are some facets to consider regarding rules and regulations when

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New York Parenting Summer Guide | 2018

perusing camps to ensure a positive summer camp experience: Clothing Whether the camp mandates a uniform shirt or allows a more liberal clothing policy, the goal is to have children fit in, not be judged by their clothes, and feel fully comfortable. Often, the societal pressures children feel during the year to wear certain brands or wear makeup can interfere with everyday camp activities. To reduce these pressures, many camps have implemented dress codes. Uniforms allow children to focus on their activities and bonding rather than what another camper is wearing. Besides camps that have a uniform, some restrict campers from bringing brand-name clothing, or ask that campers only pack solid-colored clothing. Makeup, hair dryers, curling irons, and hair straighteners are sometimes not allowed. Some camps employ a one-piece bathing suit policy at camp, as it prevents wardrobe malfunctions, which, in turn, helps girls participate more in physical activity when they feel comfortable. Electronics Along with restrictions on clothes and


accessories, the majority of summer camps don’t allow smartphones, iPads, laptops, or electronic games. While it can be a challenge for both campers and staff to overcome the impulse to check their phone for social media updates and texts, some kids are more relaxed once they do make the separation. Some camps have strict policies regarding cellphone use, and will even send children home for violating them. Some parents and children don’t feel comfortable without having cellphone access, so it’s imperative to find out about your potential camps’ electronics policies. Food Camp food has encountered one of the most dramatic changes over the years than any other area. Back in the day, you were handed a peanut butter and jelly sandwich — and today, your child may be privy to gourmet meals and snacks that are tailored toward his individual health issues. With food allergies on the rise, the rules about food are strict to provide a safe place for all children. Most camp directors agree that so much food is typically offered throughout the day that there is no need for children to either not

eat or hide food. Most counselors and staff monitor food consumption, but this is an especially big concern for children with allergies or anxiety. Social Every good camp operates with the child’s growth and progress in mind, but the way it reinforces its core values may show up in a number of different ways. Are campers supervised at all times? Must they participate in every activity? How much free time do they have? If your child is on the quiet side, will staff keep an eye on the social aspect and encourage him to make friends and hold activities to encourage bonding? Some camps set aside alone time to read or draw, while others are on a stricter regimen and require full participation in all activities. Like many things, it all comes down to what you and your child feel comfortable with. Camp can be an amazing experience that encourages self-growth and independence, and finding a camp that your child will thrive in makes all the difference. Danielle Sullivan is a writer living in New York City. Follow her on Instagram @Deewrite. 2018 | NYParenting.com

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Camp Guide

How to calm first-time camper fears By Dr. Marcie Beigel

C

amp can be a magical experience for your child. New friends, new adventures, and a different environment await him. Just like the first day of school, the first camp experience brings up a range of emotions — from excitement to nervousness, and from freedom to loneliness. It is important to set your child up for it to be amazing from the start. Welcome all of his feelings and highlight the positive elements of this adventure over and over again. Here are a few ideas to get you started: Start the conversation early. Once you make the decision about camp, share it with your child. Notice it is you who is making the decision, this is the first way to make it an amazing camp experience. Don’t place the responsibility of this decision on your child’s shoulders. If you visited camps, you should absolutely get preferences, opinions, and insights from your child, but ultimately, you make the final decision. Share camp details with your child. Tell him how long he will be going, what activities will happen there, why you think this is a great option for this summer, and how you know he will love it. Share your own experiences. Specifically, the ones that worked out well — how you met your best friend that you still know today, or how you missed your family for a day and then forgot about home, because you were having so much fun. Keep your conversation positive and excited. Keep any reservations you have to yourself. Letting your child know that you are anxious about camp will only make him feel anxious. As a parent, you need to keep those feelings to yourself. Ask him what he thinks. When he

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New York Parenting Summer Guide | 2018

shares positive thoughts, be engaged and encouraging. Extend the conversation and go into details. If he has fears or anxiety, calmly talk to him about it for a few moments and then change the focus of the conversation. Provide him with a safe place to be heard, but do not get stuck and spiral around fear or concern. A few minutes is all that is needed to let him know it is okay to be anxious. Then you want to refocus his attention on the positive possibilities of the experience. Make shopping for supplies an adventure. Have him participate in the preparations for camp. This will make the experience feel more real. Send him off with lots of love. Let him know he is ready — and so are you — for this next step. And make sure you have some adventures planned while he is away. This way, you will both have exciting stories to share after camp is over. Dr. Marcie Beigel is an international speaker and trainer on behavior. You can find more tips in her new book, “Love Your Family Again,” available on Amazon. Since 1998 she has worked with more than 5,867 people and is the founder of Behavior and Beyond, a company dedicated to behavior change. Find out more at DrMarcie.com.


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206 5th ave., Flatiron District 646-766-1843 | anthony@einy.org 2018 | NYParenting.com

33


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New York Parenting Summer Guide | 2018


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New York Parenting Summer Guide  

2018

New York Parenting Summer Guide  

2018