Happy Campers [Kids Today / USA Today]
by Hope Katz Gibbs
Kids Today / USA Today
April 2, 1995
About now, when homework and exams begin to pile up, kids start thinking about summer. For many, the hot months mean bug spray and beaches. But for about 5 million American kids, summer also means camp.
If you’ve never been to summer camp, you might not know where to start looking for the one right for you. After all, there are more than 8,000 camps in the United States, including private and specialty camps. There are also low-cost general interest camps run by the YMCA, YWCA, and Scouts, day camps and overnight camps, camps for city kids, and camps for country kids. How do you choose?
Well, day camp has the same hours as school, only you don’t have any homework and you get to go swimming. Overnight camp is a bigger change, though.
To help you decide if you are ready, think back to a time you stayed overnight at a friend’s house. Were you scared? Or after a little time, did you forget about your folks and the pillow you left home—and have a blast?
If things went well, you can probably handle a sleep-away camp. The price tag might limit which one you choose. Fees for a non-profit camp (like scouts or the YMCA) range from $15 to $55 a day. Private camps can cost up to $5,000 for four weeks.
The good news is that some camps hire teens (13 to 15) to be counselors in training (CIT). By the time you reach high school, you can apply to become a junior counselor. Senior year, you can become a full-fledged group leader—and they owners will pay you to attend.
Richard Kennedy, author of “Choosing the Perfect Camp,” (Random House,-$15) advises: “Sit with your parents and make a list of what you want out of a camp: activities, location’ coed or single-sex, length of stay, etc. Using a camp directory, make a “long list” of camps to consider. Then narrow the list to two or three camps. And get names of other kids who have attended. Ask how it went.
“After this final step,” says Kennedy, “you should feel confident about your choice and be eager for the adventure to begin.”