Parents often say to me, “I need a camp close by in case I have to rush there if something is wrong.” As a parent, I totally understand how they feel; however, one of the main reasons to send a child off to camp is for them to learn to advocate for themselves. Children learn to solve problems on their own at sleep away camp, and they learn to ask for help from their fellow campers, counselors, and camp director. If you choose the camp with care and trust in the director to nurture your child, then you can begin to let go of your worries over the distance between you and your child. Supportive camp staff is what matters. Location and travel time may be factors in your choice, but should not rule the decision.
What do you hope for your child to gain at camp? Parents often cite exposure to the outdoors. How are the mountains and lakes near your house? Probably not great, right. There is something special about mountain air and sunsets by a beautiful lake with your camp friends. These settings make forever memories. Lifetime passions can develop when you learn to hike, sail, windsurf, kayak, or fish. While many camps near and far can offer your child outdoor experiences, don’t set limitations while you are exploring the options. You may have to go further from home to find the best camp for your child.
The journey to camp can be a fun part of the experience, and the trip to camp is when many kids feel their summer begins. Most likely the trip to camp will take a good part of the day whether it is by car, bus or plane. How nice to arrive at camp with a new friend, who was sitting next to you on the bus or plane. Campers also gain travel savvy that will stand them in good stead as they get older.
Keep an open mind about a camp’s location. Why not make the priority the quality of the environment, facilities, activities, and staff? The one day of travel to and from camp is such a small part of the whole experience. Choosing the right camp setting, philosophy, and culture is so much more important than the distance from home. Be willing to go far enough to find the camp that works best for your child. We also encourage parents to speak to the directors of any camps they are considering so that any specific needs or worries can be discussed during your selection process.