By Laurie Kaiden, Maine Campcierge™
The start of the New Year is a popular time for parents to look ahead to plan family vacations and their kids’ summer camp experiences. To help with the could-be daunting camp selection process, Maine Camp Experience provides the first Campcierge™ to personally assist families.
The Campcierge™ offers these six tips to help families choose the right camp.
1. Start Now. Choosing the right overnight camp is important, so parents should give themselves time to research and decide. Planning sooner also provides families with the best availability in age groups and preferred session dates. Some families even start planning a year in advance so they can tour camps or have their child participate in a rookie/trial session; then s/he attends the following summer well-familiar with the camp.
2. What’s Best? While it can be tempting to just choose a camp that a friend, neighbor or relative attends, the Campcierge™ highly recommends that parents focus on what their child needs in terms of camp activities, offerings, staff attention and environment. While it can seem strange at the start to “go alone” – kids thrive at the camp that is right for them and they quickly make new friends, which is what camp is all about.
3. Involve the Child. While the camp decision is one ultimately parents will make, involving the child can help get him/her excited and alleviate some of the anxious feelings they may have before they go. Opportunities include asking what kind of activities s/he would like, reviewing camp materials together, and having the child meet the camp director.
4. Make Camp a Priority. If possible, plan family vacations around camp schedules, not the reverse. Ideally, parents want to choose the camp that is right for their child long term, not one that just fits that summer’s calendar.
5. Determine Key Criteria. To get started, parents should determine some key criteria to help them focus their search. Considerations should include: session length, coed or single gender, cost, camper composition, desired rusticity, key activities, location, and trip opportunities. If water sports are important, families should be sure to focus on camps that offer large lakes with daily access to waterfront options. When choosing, parents should try to think beyond just the first camp summer to ensure the camp they select will work for years to come.
6. Next Steps. Parents should create a “short list” of potential camps, and then speak or meet with a few different directors (usually between two-four is ideal) to hear about the camps and see which would be the best fit. Families can work with a credible, objective and free resource, such as the Campcierge™ to discuss their criteria, develop the list, connect with directors, and choose their camp. They can also get feedback from current camp families.
The Campcierge™ works one-one-on with families via phone, email, and live chat. Throughout the process, she is there to provide free guidance, make recommendations, and answer questions about camps and travel to Maine. She spends a lot of time at the 30+ Maine Camp Experience camps each summer, and meets and speaks with the directors frequently throughout the year. In addition to the logistics of sleepaway camp research and selection, the Campcierge™ guides families through the emotional aspects, including, “Is my kid ready? Am I ready? Is it okay to choose a different camp than other family members’ kids attend?”
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.