A 'Last Minute' Guide to Picking the Best Summer Camp for YOUR Child...

Every June and July, caring parents just like you find themselves frantically searching the web for a summer camp that's close to home and suits their child's needs. With lots of camps starting each week and the clock ticking, knowing where to start can be a bit stressful...

That's why we've enlisted the help of Steve Pence, President of US Sports Camps to get his top tips for finding the right camp quickly. Here's what he had to say...

A good starting point for any parent searching for camp is right in the palm of their hands or at their work desk.

Not that you wouldn't start there anyway, but a quick Google search of 'basketball camps', 'golf camps' or whatever your child's favorite sport is and you'll get a good idea of what's available in your local area. Spend some time researching the different camps near you. Keep in mind that if you're looking for an overnight camp or a specialty camp of sorts, you'll want to give yourself some extra time since you may need to look at flights and possibly coordinating with friends.

Which leads to the next best way to find the right camp... Talk to your friends!

Nobody is going to give you a better recommendation on camp than your own best friends! As you know, you can trust them more than anyone else and they've probably heard from other friends about camps in your local area. One idea you might find helpful is to split up the online research with a couple other Mom's. Then get together and discuss what you've found. When you're late to the game on signing up for summer camp, this can be a great way to save time and stress.

After just a few days, you should have a pretty good list of camps that you've narrowed the decision down to. This list of camps should fit yours and your kids busy summer schedule, be in your price range and have really great reviews.

Now it's time to grab your space in a camp. Most camp operators have a user friendly website and checkout process but if you ever get stuck, they also should have customer service staff ready to help you. This last step can be the most daunting since, let's face it, summer camps can be expensive...

But remember, the advantages gained by participating in supervised competitive sports at an early age are gifts that can last a lifetime. The life lessons and character building that can happen in just one week is truly remarkable!





Don't Forget Winter Camp for Your Kids

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Kids love summer. They wait all year for their long, two-month break from classes and homework. But summer isn't their only chance for an exciting and fun camping experience. Winter - also known as summer's little sister - gives kids the same opportunity to get away from an ordinary routine and have new adventures.

It's easy to overlook winter. Kids and teens don't get a months-long break, ost winter camps don't offer the same sleepaway experience as their summer counterparts. But instead of keeping your kids inside and teaching them the fine art of shoveling snow, you have the chance to give them a memorable winter.

Unfortunately for parents, work doesn't stop over the winter. As a result, unattended kids can get lonely or bored over winter break. Winter break can last up to three weeks, and this is a lot of time for you to be responsible for all your kid's daily activities. Winters camps let them socialize and stay active during this time, and it's safer for your kids to be supervised by counselors and other adults.

Winter camps don't have to be a downgraded experience either. For example, Camp Live Oak in Broward County, Florida, offers the full slate of things to do: sports, arts & crafts, archery, and fishing.

For those in chillier climates, winter camps have tons of engaging indoor activities.  Second City in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Toronto offers improve and comedy camps during the winter. Tech and science camps are still available over the winter, and the same is true for many other themed camps.

From museum camps to arts to sports, there's a winter camp for your kid. But time is running out. Winter is on its way.


3 Ways to Prepare Your Child or Teen for Weight Loss Camp

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It's no longer a secret that obesity is a full-blown health epidemic in America. If your child or teen is unhealthily overweight, they're not alone.

Fortunately, there are weight loss summer camps that provide both the enjoyment and teach the skills necessary to live a healthy lifestyle. While some people are simply fortunate to have fast metabolism or physical advantages, the ability to live a healthy life is a teachable skill.

Losing weight is difficult, and there can be discouraging setbacks. So if you're considering weight loss summer camp for your child or teen and want them to have the best opportunity for success, consider these three tips.

1. Make Sure Your Child or Teen Is Committed.

Have an open, honest discussion with your child or teenager. Discuss the potential health complications about being overweight or obese. Do not make the discussion about how they look.

Focusing on appearances leads people to feel shame, which can make them feel hopeless. They probably already feel poorly because their peers at this age can

Instead, make sure that they are on board with improving their health at a weight loss summer camp. If they go in with a positive mindset, your child or teen exponentially increases their chance at success. Psychology is half the battle.

2. Start with Healthy-Eating Habits.

Weight loss camp won't help your child or teen if they can only maintain healthy eating habits while at camp. Losing weight is a commitment, and the weight can come back as easily as it can shed.

With that said, start with healthy eating habits. Fewer greasy fried foods. Lean meats if you are a meat-eating household. More vegetables and fruits, especially when snacking. Fewer foods drenched in sauces.

This is all stuff you've heard before, but if you don't start these habits before camp and keep them up after camp, then any progress made in camp will not stay.

3. Convince Your Child or Teen of the Fun Activities.                         

The idea of a weight loss camp can seem like a drag. It sounds like hard work.

The good news is that these camps are actually fun. Getting outside, doing physical activity, naturally produces chemicals in the brain that make people feel better.

So help your child or teen understand that they will be playing games like basketball or volleyball. They'll get out of the heat with swimming. And they'll learn skills that they can take with them after camp is done.


Rise of the Robots: Why Robotics is the Next Big Thing In Summer Camps

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Imagine a world overrun with robots, performing the smallest tasks, taking the jobs of human beings, and even vacuuming your floor. There's no need to stretch your brain because we're already living that world, which is why robotics is taking over summer camps around the country.

It's no secret that robotics is the future, and that the usefulness of a STEM education is only poised to grow from here. The good news is that robotics is actually fun for all ages.

Kids love robots. The sales of Lego building blocks and the Transformers franchise prove that. Teens and young adults love technology. They take apart everything, and if we're lucky, they put it back together when they're done.

Whether you're planning a career or hoping to instill a love of the STEM and robotics fields in your children, summer camps with robotics are a great opportunity for kids and young adults to learn while also enjoying a wide array of fun activities.

What do you do at Robot Camp?

At robotics camps, the campers will design, build, program, and test robots. They'll learn about Artificial Intelligence, and will explore the basics of mechanical, electrical, and computer engineering.

Some camps even bring out the competitive spirit of campers with robot competitions. Campers love these events, often racing against the clock to build the best robots. They then test how these rushed robots behave, sometimes with hilarious results.

The activities at these summer camps can vary. For example, at iD Tech, you can:

  • Build a laptop powered by Amazon's Alexa AI
  • Engineer a self-driving robot
  • Explore AI and computer vision

We haven't yet reached a workless utopia where robots handle every important task, so in this transition phase, we still need to prepare our children for a country where robots are seriously displacing human beings for paying jobs.

Fortunately, robotics summer camps are fun and educational. So consider the future for your future camp.

5 Things You Need to Know Before Choosing an Acting Summer Camp

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Many young people are attracted to the glitz and glamour of acting. They love the chance to be creative and to embody a character that is different from their own personality.

There are several types of acting, however, and your child's interests and expectations will dictate what camp you should choose. It's important to align the camp's activities and objectives with your camper's.

So with that, here are the five things you need to know before choosing an acting summer camp.

1. Acting isn't as easy as it looks!

Campers will have lots of fun, but if they want to improve, they'll have to take direction from instructors. When practicing acting for the camera, many campers will have to learn the difference between long shots and close-up shots, and they'll have to adjust their type of acting to the camera angle.

Also, when acting for the films, young actors will learn how to film and act scenes out-of-sequence or out-of-order in the script. This means jumping around from scene -to-scene and making sure the young actor/camper understands where their character is at in the story.

2. There are different types of acting.

Theater acting is different from film acting which is different from musical theater.

Theater is in front of an audience in a big stage. The performance style is much larger to project the emotion all the way to the back row. Musical theater, of course, puts an emphasis on singing and music.

Film acting requires an understanding of the camera's location, and the style is much smaller because the camera picks up every detail.

There are also camps for improvisational acting.

3. See if the camp will cast you in a real production.

Many camps will have connections with local theater groups or casting agents, so if your goal is to make connections to get cast, then this is something to ask about.

While there's no guarantee of fame and fortune, it's nice to know what other campers have gone onto do after their training.  For example, the New York Film Academy acting program boasts of their successful camp grads:

"Glee, The Middle, Parks and Recreation, The Feature Film, and This Must Be the Place are just a few of the countless film and television productions that have casted our talented acting camp graduates." 

4. Acting can be a confidence boost.

Acting is great for extroverts who love to get out in front of a crowd or a camera. But this isn't all children. If you have a child with social anxiety or shyness, acting camp may help them build confidence.

Don't force it though. Have a talk with your potential camper, and see if it's something they're interested in. There may even be a trial period to see if acting is something they might enjoy.

Overall, acting camp can be an enjoyable experience if you know what you're applying to.

5 Reasons Science Summer Camps are the Best

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When it comes to trends in summer camps, science is the second hottest thing after rising temperatures. But why are science summer camps becoming the go-to destination for kids and teens?

Science camps are great for a variety of ages, and they help to foster the interests and skills that help young people in the world of today. We'll give you the top 5 reasons why science summer camps are the best.

1. Science camps are fun.

Let's cut to the chase. Kids and teens aren't going to want to go to a summer camp unless it fills this most important of priorities.

And science camps are very fun. Science, as a topic, spans a number of different areas of interest, and there are so many activities for each field of study.

 Far from a classroom, kayaking is a great way to get out and learn about the environment and specific ecosystems. Building and programming robots are activities that bring about the joys of playing with toys. And astronomy builds on the sense of wonder that everyone has as a young person.

2. Science summer camps promote learning.

Not everyone learns from reading books and listening to lectures. Many people are kinesthetic learners - or the type of people that learn from having a hands-on experience.

Science camps cater to these types of learners. For example, at iD Tech camps, kids and teens can engineer a self-driving robot and even create worlds within a video game.

By putting science into your hands in the real world, science camps promote a tactile and memorable way to learn.

3. Science camps promote socialization.

There has long been a stigma that kids and teens who are into science and math are introverted or anti-social. Science summer camps dispel that stereotype.

Sleepaway camps naturally put students together in close proximity and teach them to live and grow together. And science, specifically, gives students exciting group activities and experiments to partake in, so they can work together.

Also, science camps encourage girls and young women get into science and math, fields they have traditionally been left out of.

4. STEM jobs are the future.

Fun and games are great, but science camps also prepare your kids for the world beyond the learning environment. Getting your child interested in STEM is an investment in their future.

More and more jobs relate to science, robotics, coding, and other STEM fields. Even a basic understanding of science and math helps future jobseekers when they go into other fields.

5. Science helps kids and teens understand a world bigger than themselves.

Science, in general, encourages people to look beyond themselves to the world around them. At camp, kids can learn about ecosystems and other forms of living creatures that depend on one another to survive.

Kids and teens can learn how to take care of the environment and the world around them. Some camps have activities learning about animals or space.

The exact area of focus depends on the camp, but the study of science extends beyond a single person. Thinking beyond oneself makes your child happier, more positive, and more empathetic for the world around them. That's why science is great.


Is "Trial" Camp Best for Your Child?

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The free sample. The 30-day money-back guarantee. We love the idea of getting to try before we buy, and now summer camps are beginning to offer these trials as well.

The new trial camp trend is taking off, and it's perfect for parents and kids who just aren't sure if summer camp (or a specific summer camp) is for them.

What Is Trial Camp?

Trial camp isn't a free sample; you do have to pay.  But it does give kids or teens a small bit of the camp experience without the full commitment to an entire summer.

Most trial camps offer a few days and a few nights, so that the camper gets to experience what daily life at the camp would be like. Many even offer a tour for parents, who also get to scope out the premises.

Of course, you should do your research into a camp, but nothing replaces the experience of checking out the campgrounds yourself.

Which Kids Benefit Most from Trial Camp?

New Campers

While most kids love camp, experiences at summer camp are still subjective. For kids who have never attended camp before, trial camp might be the best choice.

Just getting to spend a few days at camp might allay any fears they have about going to a faraway place and sleeping in a bed that isn't their own. Then they can come back and let you know if they want to have the complete experience.

Special Needs

Trial camp also works for children with special needs. Every child is different. If you have a child with physical or mental disabilities, you're probably concerned whether or not your chosen summer camp can accommodate their needs.

Sure, it's nice to get guarantees from the staff, but a few days at camp will give you the information you need to commit to a complete summer experience.


Nothing's worse than knowing your child is crying somewhere else and wanting to be in your arms. If you're worried that your child might get homesick, trial camp is a great chance to try out the experience of being away from home.

The limited time period of only a few nights will give your child the overnight experience with the reassurance that they can return to home within days.

Unsure of Activities?

For some campers, the concern isn't being at home - it's what they're going to do when they're at camp.

Trial camp usually gives your kids a bit of a "sampler plate" of all the different activities. Whether the camp is focused on art or exploration or science or adventure, this appetizer will be enough to know if your child is ready for the main course.

And that's how you should think of trial camps - as a nice sample. If your child gives you a positive report, then you can be safe and secure in the knowledge that you made the right choice

Back to School: Best New Takes on a Camper Lunchbox Classic

Camp season has flown by! While we are sad to see the best time of the year come to a close, we know another adventure for campers is coming up- a brand new school year!

Seeing old classmates and meeting new friends, new classes, new teachers, and new schedules are sure to give your camper an appetite! Now it's time to refuel and a great go-to meal is the nutty, gooey, sweet, wholesome, and satisfying peanut butter and jelly sandwich. We are fans of the good-old-fashioned  PB&J sandwich, but did you know there are other ways to use this delicious combo? Behold: 10 Delicious News Takes on the PB&J.
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Treasure Your Camp Memories in a Scrapbook

by Amanda Formaro

You don't have to be into scrapbooking to create lasting memories from the photos your child took at camp. We all know how some shots from a child's camera can turn out... out of focus, lots of motion, and even cropped off heads! The fun part about creating a scrapbook from all the photos your child took is making these odd ball shots fit into a fun theme while showcasing the better ones at the same time.

So before you decide to toss some of those photos, let's go through them and decide what works, and what just doesn't. While a picture of Johnny's chin and shirt may be salvageable, chances are the close up of Susie's thumb just won't. When sifting through the pictures, think of funny phrases that might work well with these misfit photos. For example, a picture of Tommy laughing with the top of his head cut off at the corner would be an ideal shot for a funny hat made from scrapbook paper. Use your imagination when it comes to framing these haphazard pictures.

Embellishments are a great way to jazz up pictures. Craft supply stores carry a huge variety of scrapbooking supplies, including themes such as summer and camping. There are three dimensional stickers, typography stickers, photo corners for holding photos in place and so many other items it's hard to list them all. You'll also find a wide variety of scrapbook papers, from solid colors to all different types of patterns. There are also textured sheets and themed papers, all available in a wide variety of weights.

You'll also want to gather any souvenirs that your child brought home from camp. Drawings, postcards and letters home, name tag from their cabin or clothing, or just about anything that will fit comfortably on a page without bulging the rest of the book. Even items from nature such as a leaf or twig that your child collected would make a nice addition to your scrapbook pages. You can even cut the camp logo from any t-shirt they may have acquired and use that in your book. After all, the shirt won't fit next year anyway!

Try building your pages chronologically, or maybe you would prefer to build theme pages such as a "game night" page and "outdoor activities" section. Gather photos, use your embellishments to perk up the page, and use typography stickers to add phrases or fun sayings. You can ask your child to hand write captions and include those, or find blank speech bubble stickers and have them write funny captions over their friend's heads!

Your scrapbook can also be a great place to keep all of your new friends' contact information. Create a "phone book" type page with your friend's photos and phone numbers so you can keep in touch.

If you don't want to spend too much money on scrapbooking supplies, there are plenty of things you can use from your kid's craft supplies, and even from things you can find around the house. Don't forget about the dollar store, there are plenty of inexpensive supplies to be had there! Things like coins and buttons make for great embellishments, while red, orange and yellow tissue paper makes a great looking campfire! Tiny pebbles and twigs found in your backyard are free and will look wonderful on your camp pages. Make use of scrap felt and fabric as well, they'll add plenty of color and texture.

Whatever you decide just remember to do it quickly before memories of camp start to fade. Talk to your kids and jot down some ideas while they fill you in on the details. Write names on the back of photos as your child shows them to you. Scrapbooking your child's camping adventures will be fun for both of you and will create memories that will last a lifetime!

74 Free Summer Activities for Kids

Kids are home from camp and they might be getting a little bored. Be prepared to fight off boredom with this awesome list of 74 FREE summer activities for kids.

1. Go on a picnic
2. Go to your local farmer's market
3. Play with bubbles
4. Draw with sidewalk chalk
5. Run through the sprinkler
6. Visit local nature preserve
7. Find figures in the clouds
8. Play in the kiddie pool
9 Find local free museum days
10 Go on a hike
11. Water the plants
12. Start a nature journal
13. Set up your tent and have a camp out in the backyard- pretend like it's still summer camp
14. Go on a bike ride

15. Make s'mores
16. Visit the local pool
17. Play restaurant. Have the kids "make" lunch
18 Go on a scavenger hunt
19. Search for animal tracks
20. Host a movie marathon 
21. Fly a kite
22. Plant a garden (or anything)
23. Play beach volleyball
24. Make a craft from Pinterest
25. Create a scrapbook from all your camp photos
26. Pick flowers
27. Teach your kids to cook one of their favorite dishes
28. Eat dinner outside
29. Have a yard sale
30. Go fishing
31. Build a Lego castle
32. Watch the sun set
33. Play cards
34. Try a new recipe
35. Tell ghost stories
36. Visit the grandparents
37. Play soccer
38 Play dress up
39.Visit the local fire station
40. Swing. Get really high and jump out
41. Lay in the grass
42. Create an obstacle course
43. Catch fireflies (or butterflies)
44 Find a local water play park
45. Make popsicles
46. Melt crayons or ice in the sun
47. Have a water fight
48. Learn origami
49. Donate old books and toys
50. Play rock paper scissors
51. Play I spy
52. See who can spit a watermelon seed farthest
53. Play Simon Says
54. Have a sleepover
55. Make your own book
56 Create a chore chart
57. Take pictures
58. Play catch
59. Learn about different countries
60. Have a pillow fight
61. Make up each other's hair
62. Skip rocks
63. Craft your own musical instruments
64. Find figures in the clouds
65. Create a memory jar
66 Play kick ball (make up your own rules)
67. Swing in a hammock
68. Nap
69. Put on a fashion show
70. Play hide and go seek (or sardines)
71. Visit a lake or river
72. Make paper boats; sail them down a stream
73. Learn about your family's history
74. Learn how to juggle
For more free activities,see the full blog post! http://www.thejennyevolution.com/free-summer-activities-kids/