For years, Chanukah was a big holiday filled with small basic presents each night ending with one biggie for my boys. Underwear, socks, new pajamas, coupons to get out of dish washing or other chores….. Always included money that had to be donated to charity of their choice. We would do the research, make a selection of an organization for which they felt compassion, and send off the contribution in their name.
But I think the best gift of all was the year we had two camp directors come visit the house and meet the boys. They shared the vision of green fields, beautiful lake fronts for water skiing, the rock shop where there were drums and guitars to play, and freedom for the whole summer away from parents.
The gift that kept giving over and over again. Seven years of camp…. What an experience they had. They loved flag football, they loved tennis and most importantly, they loved the friends they made for a lifetime.
They still run in to people who went to camp with them… Or if they went to the same camp but at different times, they belong to a special club of alumni. They can share stories about the traditions that occurred at their special camp that only alumni would understand.
When searching for the right summer camp for your child, there will be many camps that have a potential right fit. But I always suggest that you narrow down to the top two or three and then look at some of the tie breaker differences of these camps. Because the hope is that the gift you give to your kids will also be a gift that keeps on giving.
So the tie breakers….
1. Price: although it seems to be an obvious one, you really have to look deeper than tuition. Look at airfare, clothing, add ons such as field trips and horseback riding, and the distance from the closest major airport.
2. Flights: are there escorted flights? Must you transport your child or will the camp?
3. Demographics of the other campers: just as you pick a college knowing your child will be sitting in class making friends with a certain group of people at the university they attend, the same goes for fellow campers. Some families want Princeton or Yale, some want University of Michigan and some want Northeastern. All excellent colleges and experiences for the right family and child. But….. different…. This is a tie breaker!
4. Visiting day: lastly, remember you are going to go to visiting day for many years to come. Where do you want to go each year? Do you mind the B and B’s of the Adirondacks, prefer the hotels of Maine, or enjoy the mountains of North Carolina?
Bottom line is the gift of camp is a great holiday present for your kids. The camp directors come visit homes between now and January 1 non-stop. They want to create those same memories my kids had so many years ago.
And of course, make sure you get a qualified personal shopper… For camps.