To get the most out of this book, we recommend that you read it cover-to-cover 6 to 12 months before the camp season. That may seem like a long time ahead, but if you're starting from square one, you'll be researching camps, making a selection, scheduling a physical exam, getting emotionally prepared for the separation, learning how to pack, and finishing dozens of miscellaneous tasks. It's a lot to do, especially when you consider that most camps fill up their available bunks several months before they open. Therefore, it's a good idea to start the process now and register early for the camp you eventually choose.
For those of you pressed for time, this is just the book for you. The Summer Camp Handbook is comprehensive and written for parents who want a thorough reference. However, we've also written the book with your busy lifestyle in mind. As an alternative to reading every chapter, go to the table of contents and index to find only the material that's immediately relevant. The book's logical organization will help you pinpoint the information you need now. In addition, most chapters have summaries of key information.
If you are reading this and camp opens in less than six months, fear not. We have arranged the chapters chronologically, so you can jump in at any stage of the game. With six months or less to go, you can either read the entire book, to see whether you've forgotten anything, or go directly to the chapters that interest you. There is still time to make wise choices. Your future camper should read the Just for Kids chapter as soon as possible.
If you've already chosen a camp, congratulations! It's not an easy choice, considering all the possibilities. We recommend skimming Parts I and II of the book to see what else you might learn about the camp you chose. Then, parents should read Parts III and IV more closely, and kids should read Chapter 15. These parts contain important discussions about the emotional and physical preparation that helps so much before camp starts. You'll also find tips on packing and preparing for a smooth opening day.
If your child is already at camp, skim Part III and carefully read Part IV. There, you'll find a lot of helpful information on helping your child get the most out of camp. We've even included sample letters to help you write supportive correspondence. You'll also find suggestions for what to include in a care package and how to prepare for a smooth closing day. You might also read Chapter 15, where you'll find helpful tips to share with your child in your next letter.
Seven million kids attend overnight camp each year in the United States. When they're grown up, those kids will tell romantic stories of how camp made them a better person. They'll explain how the overnight camp experience enhanced their social and physical skills, how it cultivated their leadership abilities, and how it bolstered their independence. Adults who reminisce about their camps see them as wholesome islands in today's toxic social sea. For kids, though, camp is less about values and more about fun and friends.
Almost all young people love overnight camp. However, if you choose the wrong camp, at the wrong time, for the wrong reasons, or without adequate preparation, then it could be a miserable experience. With more than 6,300 overnight camps in the United States, picking one could seem impossible. This book will help you make all the right choices about when to go, where to go, how to get ready, and most of all how to make sure that camp is an unforgettable, positive experience. We'll give you valuable camp information you can't find anywhere else, plus experienced answers to the toughest questions you have about overnight camp.
Still not sure where to start? Try our Quick Start Guide.