09 May Getting Ready for Summer Camp – and Finding One at the Last Minute
Tips for Families From 92Y Camp Expert Lauren Wexler
The first day of summer camp is just around the corner and while some families are champing at the bit and starting to prepare for the summer – others are still deciding which camp is the best fit.
92Y’s longtime camp expert Lauren Wexler is available to help families in both areas – how to navigate the seemingly overwhelming camp landscape (day vs. sleepaway/country vs. city, etc.), while offering time-tested tricks to get ready for summer in the Great Outdoors or elsewhere.
Wexler, who oversees several 92Y camps as the Director of Children’s Enrichment and Engagement, is available for interviews. She can also discuss the overall importance of summer camp and its impact on children and parents alike.
92Y’s camps, which serve children ages 3-18, include Camp Yomi, a general interest day camp in Rockland County, Trailblazers, a day-travel camp, and Camp Pride, among many others. Information about all of 92Y’s camps can be found here.
Lauren Wexler’s Tips
So many choices, so little time: Says Wexler, “It might feel like it’s too late to choose a camp, but the good news is — so many camps offer both short-term and long-term options, and many still have space. Day camp in the country can be a rich experience, just as the sleepaway experience can be a formative one. City-based camps and specialty camps can also be transformational experiences. So, parents need talk it through with their kids – determine what they are looking to get out of the summer, which kinds of activities are most appealing, and which setting is most desirable – and make the best, most-informed choice. The one that feels right.”
You’ve narrowed it down and still can’t decide: “The best way to make a final decision when choosing between two is to have open, frank conversations with the camp director and camp staff. Ask questions about their culture, and what they value most. And, of course, make sure the activities offered align with the kind of experience that your family has in mind.”
The Importance of Summer Camp: “Summer camp can be a transformational experience for a child as well as a magical one. Kids literally grow into themselves at summer camp – they learn how to be independent, discover new interests, develop new skills – and they make friendships that can last a lifetime. The summer camp experience can be so impactful that it sets the stage for their adult lives and the people they will become.”
It’s All About the Socialization: “Any socialization skills that kids lost over the past two years (during the pandemic) can be re-learned at summer camp. It’s really a terrific environment to go out of one’s comfort zone and meet new people, make new friends – without being tied to those roles kids can be confined to at school.”
Getting Ready for Camp: “A great way to build excitement and ease nerves about camp is shopping for camp supplies together. Let your child pick out a new backpack, a water bottle, a swimsuit or a flashlight that will be special to them, something they will look forward to using at camp. Visit the camp’s website with your child, showing them photos and videos that will get them excited – and show them exactly what they can expect when they get there.”
What to Say to Nervous Kids: Says Wexler: “If your child is nervous, acknowledge their feelings while remaining positive. Kids need specific details to feel comfortable and confident. For example, it’s not helpful to say, ‘Calm down, you will love camp!’ Instead, try to incorporate their interests and say something like, ‘You’re going to love camp. I hear they have a great ropes course and arts and crafts.’ Also, if you went to camp as a kid, talk about what you loved most about your experience. Lastly, it can be helpful to find out exactly what your child is nervous or anxious about – whether it’s changing into a bathing suit, how to make new friends, or when to ask a counselor if they need something.”
About 92nd Street Y: The 92nd Street Y (92Y) is a world-class center for the arts and innovation, a convener of ideas, and an incubator for creativity. 92Y offers extensive classes, courses and events online including live concerts, talks and master classes; fitness classes for all ages; 250+ art classes, and parenting workshops for new moms and dads. The 92nd Street Y is transforming the way people share ideas and translate them into action all over the world. All of 92Y’s programming is built on a foundation of Jewish values, including the capacity of civil dialogue to change minds; the potential of education and the arts to change lives; and a commitment to welcoming and serving people of all ages, races, religions, and ethnicities.
For more information, visit www.92Y.org.