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Summer Camp Strategy – Make the Best Summer Plans a Reality

Summer is Around the Corner (Really!)

summer camp, education, learning, science, parenting

Summer Camp can be an enriching experience filled with social emotional learning (and fun!)

With winter in full swing, it is hard to imagine warm weather and the end of school ever being a reality.  But, before we know it, the final bell for the last day of school will ring, and our kids will come running out with boundless energy.  As parents, we need to be prepared and have a summer plan.

Summer camps are a great way to keep our kids engaged and cared for while we work in the summers, but even more importantly, they give our children wonderful opportunities to explore their world, to grow socially and intellectually, and to get out their endless exuberance.  Because of those reasons, camps are in high demand. So, as with most things, it is the early bird that gets the worm (aka the best camps in the area).

Step 1: Brainstorm and make a summer camp list

Talk with your child about things that they would like to do this summer.  Think about your child’s interests.  There are camps for almost everything under the sun: cooking, art, film, Legos, science, you name it…

Also talk to your child about what kind of camps they are comfortable with.  Some children are independent and secure enough, not to mention mature enough, to want to try out some overnight camps.  Other children may think that sounds fun, but when it comes time to leave their home and family for a week, they may not be ready.  Consider doing a test run first.  If your child hasn’t been away to a friend’s for a couple nights, then they probably aren’t ready to leave everything they know and be gone for a week.

Step 2:  Research what summer camps are available

A basic Google search will give you a lot of options, but here are a few sites that might simplify your search.

  • The American Camp Association (ACA) is a database that filters the camp offerings across the nation.  There are 3717 camps/11,071 programs to choose from.  You can filter the choices by costs, duration, participants (including family or individuals), activities, affiliations, disabilities, and location.
  •  There are a number of camps that provide kids with amazing opportunities to explore science, technology, and engineering, including:  Colorado Stem Connect , CU Science Discovery Programs, ID Tech Camp at CU Boulder
  •  The Denver Post has an amazing supplemental insert that can be viewed online and that lists many of the camps available in Colorado.
  •  KidsCamp.com is a nationwide database that also allows parents to search by activities, dates, and locations.
  •  Denver YMCA also has a number of camps to choose from.  
  • Colorado Parent Magazine has a handy Summer Camp Guide filled with great information and links to innovative summer camps.

Once you have researched and found some camps that might be of interest to your child, then you should apply as soon as possible to secure your child’s spot. But before you do, make sure you create a calendar that outlines the summer.  Plug in time with grandparents, time with friends, and mark off the week after school gets out and before school starts to give your child some much-needed downtime.

Step 3 – Preparing your kids for summer camp

Camping List: Check to make sure your child has all the supplies they need for camp.  Read and reread the packing list.  If the camp doesn’t allow phone use, prepare your child.  If they can’t have electronics, keep them home.   Make sure that they have tried out any new equipment in order to test it and make sure it is comfortable and in working order before they head to camp.

No matter their age, Kids love a variety of summer activities.

Talk: Discuss with your child what the sleeping arrangements are going to be like.  Talk about showering and whether or not it is in a setting that is different from what they have experienced at school or at home.  Find out if they will be sleeping in a big room with 10 other kids or if they will be partnered up with someone.  The better you prepare them for anything unique they may experience the more likely they will be ready and enjoy their experience.  But don’t worry too much because part of the camp experience is learning to navigate new situations and helping your child build confidence.  They may fail, but they also have the supports to overcome any challenges.

Make a Plan: Have a homesickness plan!   Give your child some strategies for working through feelings of fear and sadness.  Encourage them to tell a counselor.  Counselors are trained to help children work through those feelings.  Encourage them to go talk to a new friend, make a new friend, or try an activity when they start to feel blue.  Help them redirect themselves with deep breaths and happy thoughts

Give Yourself a Pat on the Back:  You are providing your child with an unforgettable experience that will prepare them for the future!

 

6 Pen and Paper Games That Rock the Shazbot

Picture it: there you are, trapped in the middle of Chicago-O’Hare on a four-hour layover, alone but for your two cranky and travel-weary kids. Somehow your phone is bricked, your laptop charger is fried, the TV’s are all playing infomercials, and the hand-held games are in the checked luggage. (Also imagine the airport’s out of both Benadryl and whisky—shame on you for thinking it! Bad parent.)

It’s every parent’s worst nightmare. How will you survive?

Your only hope is to go boy scout versus doomsday survivalist on it.. Remember: you’re resourceful, resilient, always prepared, etc., etc.. You’d turn the Alaskan wilderness into a backyard barbecue with naught but a hatchet and a tarp. So too with Chicago-O’Hare. Your hatchet is a pencil (you know, the pointy thing that leaves a trail of graphite when scratched against a light-colored surface of certain friction), and your tarp is paper.

Here are six options for using said paper and pencil to merrily kill nearly infinite time. (Your first puzzle is trying to determine where one column’s caption stops and the next starts.)

1. In a grid like the one below, one player is trying to connect white dots to move from the right side of the board to the left; the other player is trying to connect black dots to move from the top of the board to the bottom. 2. Take turns drawing short, horizontal or vertical lines. 3. You can’t cross your opponent’s lines. Don’t get blocked!

1. In a grid like the one below, one player is trying to connect white dots to move from the right side of the board to the left; the other player is trying to connect black dots to move from the top of the board to the bottom. 2. Take turns drawing short, horizontal or vertical lines. 3. You can’t cross your opponent’s lines. Don’t get blocked!

 

1. Start with a graph-paper game board of any size. 2. One player is X’s and the other is O’s (write lightly in pencil). 3. Start with the position shown. 4. Take turns placing your symbol. On each turn, you MUST trap an opponent’s symbol between yours (horizontally, vertically, or diagonally), which you then flip to your symbol. (If you cannot trap at least one of your opponent’s symbols, you lose your turn.) 5. Once all squares are used, the player with the most symbols wins.

1. Start with a graph-paper game board of any size. 2. One player is X’s and the other is O’s (write lightly in pencil). 3. Start with the position shown. 4. Take turns placing your symbol. On each turn, you MUST trap an opponent’s symbol between yours (horizontally, vertically, or diagonally), which you then flip to your symbol. (If you cannot trap at least one of your opponent’s symbols, you lose your turn.) 5. Once all squares are used, the player with the most symbols wins.

1. Start with two or three dots on a page. 2. A move consists of two steps—draw a line between two dots (or to itself); and mark a new dot anywhere on this line. 3. Your new line may not cross any existing line. 4. Once a dot has three lines coming out of it, it is closed. 5. Whoever makes the last possible move, wins.

1. Start with two or three dots on a page. 2. A move consists of two steps—draw a line between two dots (or to itself); and mark a new dot anywhere on this line. 3. Your new line may not cross any existing line. 4. Once a dot has three lines coming out of it, it is closed. 5. Whoever makes the last possible move, wins.

1. Imagine the grid below were an open board of the kind used to play Connect Four®. 2. One player is X’s and the other is O’s. Take turns “dropping” your shape into the game board, where it falls down to rest on the lowest open spot. 3. The first person to make four in a row, wins.

1. Imagine the grid below were an open board of the kind used to play Connect Four®. 2. One player is X’s and the other is O’s. Take turns “dropping” your shape into the game board, where it falls down to rest on the lowest open spot. 3. The first person to make four in a row, wins.

1. Start with a matrix of dots, as shown. 2. Take turns drawing a line horizontally or vertically between dots. 3. Your goal is to make closed squares. If you close a square mark it as your own (place an X or an O in that box). 4. If you close a square, move again. 5. Once all squares are closed, the player with the most symbols wins.

1. Start with a matrix of dots, as shown. 2. Take turns drawing a line horizontally or vertically between dots. 3. Your goal is to make closed squares. If you close a square mark it as your own (place an X or an O in that box). 4. If you close a square, move again. 5. Once all squares are closed, the player with the most symbols wins.

1. You need four boards like the one shown, two for each player. 2. Draw your five ships on the board (as shown). 3. Take turns shooting, by naming grid spaces (i.e. “E-3”). The opponent calls a hit or a miss. Mark your shots on your blank grid and your opponent’s shots on your ship grid. 4. Continue until one player sinks the other’s ships.

1. You need four boards like the one shown, two for each player. 2. Draw your five ships on the board (as shown). 3. Take turns shooting, by naming grid spaces (i.e. “E-3”). The opponent calls a hit or a miss. Mark your shots on your blank grid and your opponent’s shots on your ship grid. 4. Continue until one player sinks the other’s ships.


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