Tag Archives: camp

How to Prepare Your Child for Sleepaway Camp

campfireFor some children, heading off to an overnight summer camp is natural and easy, and their parents aren’t too concerned. For others, especially those who are younger, more prone to anxiety, or who have special needs, the approaching first day of camp can be daunting.

Whether your child is spending a week or the whole summer away from home, here are a few tips to help you prepare your child (and yourself!) for a smooth transition to camp.

Manage your own anxiety.
Maybe you’re questioning your decision to send your daughter away to camp at her young age. Maybe you’re nervous that both you and your son will spend the first few nights of camp crying. Fears are natural, but don’t let your kids know how worried you are!

Take care of yourself and your needs first. Speak to friends and family about your anxiety, but make sure that you convey an excited, optimistic attitude when talking to your child. Remind yourself why you wanted to send her to camp in the first place. Making new friends, learning new skills, playing in the fresh air, and gaining a sense of independence are all wonderful experiences that will benefit her. You can also look forward to getting a brief respite from parenting duties while she’s away!

Whatever you do, never tell your tell child that you will miss him too much or that you wish he could stay home. If he asks if you’ll miss him, let him know that you love him, but that you want him to be at camp and that you can’t wait to read his letters and hear all about camp when he gets home.

Preview the camp schedule.
For anxious children or those who have difficulty adjusting to new routines, checking out the camp’s daily schedule together can be beneficial. These are often available on the camp’s website. If you can’t locate it, email the camp and ask for the schedule for your child’s age group.

With your child, review when wake up, bedtime, mealtimes, and activity periods will be. If he has been waking up and going to sleep on a drastically different schedule, slowly adjusting to the camp’s schedule can help make it more likely that he’ll fall asleep easily when he arrives. Taking a look at photos on the camp website to preview the new surroundings can also be useful.

Make sure to read the list of activities that are offered at camp. Generate excitement for both of you by talking about which new things your child wants to try at camp!

Let the camp know about your child’s special needs.
If your child has special needs, chances are that you have already discussed them with the camp director. If not, make a phone call or send an email to the camp administration to let them know. They will be glad that you shared information that will make the start of camp easier for both your child and for her counselors.

Full-time camp staff are childcare professionals who have seen and heard it all, so don’t worry about upsetting them with this information. Many children who require unique diets, have psychiatric diagnoses such as ADHD, or who have behavior problems in school have wildly successful summer camp experiences.

Although you might feel anxious and want to call multiple times, restrict yourself to one or two communications with the camp before the first day, unless the camp indicates that more are necessary, as camp directors are extremely busy just before and during the summer season.

Practice spending nights away from home.
If your child has rarely spent the night outside the comfort of her own bedroom, practice for the camp experience by having her sleep at friend’s and family member’s houses a few times before camp begins. Don’t call her to say goodnight; allow her to become accustomed to doing her bedtime routine under the watchful eye of another adult. When she returns home, praise her for her success at staying by herself.

Your child might ask if he can come home if he changes his mind about a sleepover or about camp. Reiterate that you’re confident that he will have a great time without you. Prepare him for the experience by saying, “A lot of kids feel homesick on their first few nights away. It’s okay if you feel that way or if you don’t feel that way. If it happens to you, don’t worry that it means you won’t have a good summer anyway.” Never promise your child that you will pick him up if he feels homesick.

Let go.
Once your child arrives at camp, the staff will take care of her needs. If there’s a problem that you need to know about, they’ll call you. Enjoy your freedom and give yourself time to relax while the children are away. Remember, whatever happens, your child will be home in a few weeks!

hassFrom the Real Experts at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone:

Arielle Walzer, MA, PsyM, is a psychology extern at the Child Study Center, part of Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone, and a doctoral candidate at Rutgers University.

Great Sports Summer Camp Options

Not many years ago the best way for a young athlete in NYC to get a solid summer sports camp experience was to attend a sleep away camp outside of the city. Not anymore! In today’s robust youth sports scene, NYC is home to a wide array of summer sports day camps for kids of every age and skill level. Here are some great choices for this summer. As with other sought after programs spots are filling up quickly so don’t wait!

Downtown Giants
A mainstay of the Lower Manhattan youth sports scene since 2006, Downtown Giants runs two football camps for players ages 7-17. The June camp at the Battery Park fields focuses on flag football with drills, skills and games. A July camp, held at Chelsea Waterside field adds some tackle football drills to its flag football lineup. Whether your child is looking to get better for the fall flag or tackle football seasons or is just looking for a fun time, both camps will meet your needs. Highly skilled and energetic DTG coaches run both weeklong camps.

Mo’ Motion
Mo’ Motion offers several exciting summer camp options including its full-day Camp Motion Hoop & Travel (boys grades 4-8), Multi-Sport (co-ed grades K-6), Overtime (co-ed grades 5 and up) and its Camp Motion Hoops half-day camp (co-ed grades k-4 in AM and grades 5-10 in PM sessions). The camps provide targeted basketball training, top-level instruction, games and exercise as well as visits to other parks, ping-pong tournaments, bowling and boxing. Camps are held outdoors in Riverside Park and indoors at the Brearley Field house on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

Columbia Sports Camps
Not only do attendees of Columbia University’s Little Lions Day Camp (co-ed ages 6-12) get to enjoy the school’s historic campus in Morningside Heights, they also have access to its top-notch athletic facilities. Little Lions is a kid-centered, fun-based camp that aims to keep kids physically and creatively active with a combination of classic PE games, backyard favorites, sports, arts and crafts, and special surprises run by a highly trained, eclectic staff. For older kids Columbia also runs 17 specialized sport-specific camps run by Division I coaches and Columbia student athletes.

Grapplin’ Gorillas
Grapplin’ Gorillas’ is one of the few youth wrestling programs in New York City, but it’s summer camp is about more than grappling and takedowns. In fact, it’s all about movement. In addition to teaching wrestling fundamentals, the camp incorporates non-wrestling games, dance and yoga into each day’s activities. Wrestling groups are created by both age and skill. The camp is open to boys and girls ages 4-13 and takes place at The Center at West Park on West 86th Street in Manhattan. Outdoor activities such as nuke ‘em, kickball and capture the flag are played in Central Park.

Riverside Parks
Taking advantage of the scenic fields and courts in Riverside Park between 96th and 110th streets, the Riverside Parks Conservancy offers a weekly low-cost, high-quality sports camp experience for children ages 4 to 14. Sport choices include baseball (run by Kids of Summer), basketball, soccer (run by the Carlos Oliveira Soccer Academy), tennis (Riverside Clay Tennis Association), flag football and multi sport. The camps run from June 4 – August 24.

Dutch Total Soccer
For budding soccer stars, Dutch Total Soccer is running a series of camps that offer instructional training and game play. Camps are held at Aviator Sports in Brooklyn and are for boys and girls ages 5 – 15 (camp for players ages 5-7 are half-days).  All camps are geared to help players progress through team play and age-appropriate individual skill development and to challenge them mentally, all in a fun camp experience.  A low staff to camper ratio means all participants will have the benefits of a personalized training environment.

PGA Golf Camp
Just a short drive to the Dunwoodie Golf Course in Yonkers offers beginner to intermediate golfers (ages 8-14) the opportunity to participate in a four-day PGA Junior Golf Camp.  There are four sessions running from July 9 to Aug. 23. Each day includes three hours of hands-on instruction lead by certified PGA Professionals who focus on developing golf skills (full swing, short game, rules and etiquette) while keeping the experience fun and engaging (games and activities). Half-day camps are designed to inspire new golfers and further the development of those playing at an intermediate level. Campers are always grouped by age and playing level. Students will also receive on-course playing time.

PSG Academy NY
Given their belief that the US has many talented soccer players with promising futures, PSG NY works to provide those players with high-quality practices led by certified and experienced coaches from countries that built world champions. As such, PSG Academy’s NY summer camps offer training similar to top European academies with emphasis on technical work, small-sided game and scrimmages. In addition to NYC camps on Randall’s Island and in Brooklyn, PSG also holds camps in New Rochelle and the Hamptons. Coaches provide players with personal evaluations on technical and physical skills at the beginning and the end of each week.

Kids in Sports
Kids in Sports summer camps are filled with the sports and activities kids love including baseball, basketball, floor hockey, football, lacrosse, soccer and volleyball. Cooperative games emphasizing the importance of teamwork and sportsmanship are a staple of all camps and all ages.  Camps always feature a low ratio of coaches to campers.  Younger campers also participate in arts and crafts, story-time and other free-play activities.  Choose from indoor camp in Manhattan (ages 2.5-6) and outdoors on Randall’s Island (ages 4-8 with transportation included)

Kids in the Game
Kids in the Game runs weekly camps for kids ages 4-14 in Park Slope, the Upper West and East Sides, Inwood and Riverdale. Camp counselors include current and former college athletes, teachers, and fitness coaches to ensure kids get the most fulfilling and enriching experience possible. Activities include sports, arts & crafts, zumba, and swimming.  Offsite field trips have included visits to a NY Yankees/Mets games, Bronx Zoo, LEGOLAND, and area museums.