Just like Rome wasn’t built in a day … finding the best Maine summer camp for your kid/s takes a little time. It can be easy and fun if you approach it the right way, and planning ahead is key. While I am currently assisting families with camp selection for 2017, now is also a GREAT time to research for summer 2018. Nothing beats getting to see camps firsthand while they’re in session, and here are four top tips to get started: Make a List; Book Tours and/or Rookie Experiences; Plan Early/Go Early; Maximize Tours.
1) Formulate your list of camps of interest. Consider factors such as desired session length (for the first year and subsequent years), single gender or coed, more or less rustic, cost, as well as type(s) of activities, instruction, programming, and trips. Think about what’s best for your child (which may or may not be the same camp as where a friend, neighbor or relative goes).
I always tell parents that it doesn’t cost anything to have conversations with directors, and there’s no commitment to a call. So it’s definitely smart to speak with directors to hear their philosophy, learn about the camp’s culture, and discuss how their child might do at their camp. Our site, mainecampexperience.com, has tools including me, Laurie the Campcierge™, to provide free personalized guidance.
2) Book Tours and/or Rookie Camp Experiences. Two great ways to see camps the summer before attending are touring the camps as a family or having your child experience a “rookie” day, overnight, or weekend (and parents usually tour as part of that too). In either case, you should contact the camps of interest to find out the rookie and tour date availability now so you can plan your other summer happenings around those. Your child will get a taste of what camp life is like, and feel excited and less nervous for the following summer when they are enrolled as a camper, making their transition to camp life that much easier. Parents and kids feel the camp vibe, experience activities, see the lake, fields, cabins, and other key facilities, as well as talk with peers their own age, older campers, and counselors. And at some camps a young prospective camper can experience staying overnight!
3) Plan Early; Go Early. While the camp season (oftentimes 7 weeks) seems like a long enough time to fit in visits, there are some days that families cannot tour. These often include the first few days while current campers are getting acclimated, the last few days (oftentimes end-of-summer traditions), current camper Visiting Days, and some special camp event or trip days. Best to contact camps of interest soon/now to schedule the best day and time to visit.
When possible for your family’s schedule, I like to suggest that families visit earlier in the camp season. It’s often useful to tour early so there’s ample time to check out the camps of interest, consider your choices, and make the decision before enrollment time.
When in doubt – definitely scope camp out. I’ve had families miss the opportunity to tour or have rookie experiences because their children didn’t seem interested in overnight camp until the camp season ended. If you think sleepaway camp may be on the horizon, start the dialog and research sooner than later. Even if you think your child seems young now, summer 2018 is over a year away and a lot of maturing happens throughout the year. Our camps begin at age 7, which is the right age for some families; others prefer to start their kids a year or two or more later. If your child is getting a little bored at day camp or is looking for more activities or fuller days – or they’re comfortable sleeping out at relatives’ and friends’ houses – they may be ready for overnight camp.
4) Tour advice. I recommend that families would visit one or two camps in a day at the most. It’s good to have ample time at each camp without needing to rush off to the next appointment, and it’s nice to have a little time to process one visit before seeing the next camp. Plus, it keeps the touring fun and exciting, not tiring.
Ideally, families have done their pre-research to narrow their list to a manageable number of tours. For example, we find that touring between two-to-four camps is often a good number. On tours we recommend that families stay hydrated, wear comfortable clothing, and potentially leave much younger siblings at home with relatives or a sitter if they’d be too tired or distracting.
Finding the right camp is a fun and exciting journey, especially when it’s in the beautiful state of Maine. Let’s get started!
Maine Camp Experience Resources & Tools
Looking for the perfect Maine camp for your child? Try out our helpful tool where you can select a camp by choosing: type of camp (girls, boys or coed) and session length (1-8 weeks). It helps to narrow down a few camps to a manageable list that includes rates. Then you can research these camps in more depth.
Next, be sure to contact our Maine Camp Guide, Laurie to discuss these camps as well as for free, year-round advice and assistance on choosing a great Maine summer camp for your child.
Talk to Laurie, our Maine Campcierge™, about choosing the right camp for your child and what to do in Maine.