Archive for Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Summer camp more than just Kumbaya

April 8, 2009

Summer is just around the corner and soon area students will find themselves out of school and with nothing to do.

But along with those long summer days comes the time-honored tradition of summer camp.

DD Gass, public relations chair for the American Camp Association’s Great Rivers office, said there is a national movement to get kids outside.

“One of the big benefits of the camp experience is being able to have a child be outside in the summer, being able to experience nature,” Gass said. “They get to learn about the importance of their environment and also about socialization skills, like working with others in their age group, while being able to do fun camp activities. Overall camp is fun. But what they take from it is that lifelong lesson that I made really good friends”

But there are many things to keep in mind when choosing a camp, including what type of camp, cost, and location.

Gass said good communication between children and their parents would make sure they choose the right camp.

“One of the first things to do is to talk to children to find what they want out of the camp experience,” Gass said.

Gass said parents also need to take into consideration the child’s age and what their experience has been like staying away from home. She said for younger children who have never spent a night away from home, it might be good to start with a day camp.

To help make sure that parents and children find what they are looking for this summer and to help the child have a positive experience, the AMA has set up a Web site (www.campparents.org) to help guide parents through the decision-making process and to help them make sure their children are ready for camp. It also provides advice to parents on different topics, including homesickness.

Gass said that even when you find the right camp it is important to get more information on the camp, talk to the director or even make a visit to make sure it is the right choice.

While thoughts of summer camp may revolve around the great outdoors, there are several different options that give the children a different experience by focusing on other activities.

This summer Kansas University will play host to several summer camps that will focus on various sports as well as a variety of other interests like math, music, writing and youth development. The university even has adult workshops in science fiction writing available.

More information on cost and the duration of the camps is available at camps.ku.edu/index.shtml

There is also a week-long day camp that is geared toward future inventors.

The National Inventors Hall of Fame Foundation has teamed up with schools across the country to offer Camp Invention, which teaches elementary school children about solving problems creatively while using science, math and technology.

“It’s learning disguised as fun,” said Michele Millikan, regional coordinator for Camp Invention. “The kids are learning about different things in science without really knowing it.”

Millikan said there is a new module this year where kids talk about superhero powers, but are really discussing things like Newton’s laws of motion and other principles in physics.

This year the camp will be held on July 27-31 at the Kansas City Kansans Community College location in Leavenworth. The camp also will be held July 20-24 at Kansas City Kansas Community College in Kansas City, Kan., June 1-5 at Eudora Middle School in Eudora, and June 1-5 at Mize Elementary School in Shawnee.

More information and registration can be found at www.campinvention.org.

Beth Hecht, 4-H youth development agent in Leavenworth County, said that there were several options for campers in 4-H who are interested in the organization.

There is a 24-hour camp for 7- to 9-year-olds at Camp Mt. Hermon in Tonganoxie, and for older kids there is a four-day and three night camping adventure at the Rock Springs 4-H Center in Junction City. The 4-Hers also will have a photography camp from June 24-27 for 13- to 16-year-olds at the Rock Springs 4-H Center.

On June 25 and 26, the 4-H group will be trying something new and having an OMK (Operation Military Kids) Day Camp. Hecht said the goal of the camp was to help out the families who have a loved one who is serving the military overseas.

“This gives the parents at home a chance to have a day for themselves, meanwhile the kids get to have a good time and join in on some fun activities,” Hecht said. “It’s just another way of supporting our military families.”

For more information on the 4-H camps, contact the county extension office at (913) 250-2300.

Financing

The types of summer camps vary about as widely as the their price with prices ranging from $10 to thousands of dollars.

Amanda Waters, divisional director of community relations for the Salvation Army, Kansas and Western Missouri, said one of the organization’s longest serving missions was to provide the camping experience for youths.

The organization offers several camps, which cost between $10-$25 per child for three to six days. The camps are held at Three Trails Camp and Retreat Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Some of the Salvation Army’s camps this year include a music camp, a sports camp and Christian-oriented camps for children of all ages as well as camps for children of prison inmates and camps for low-income families.

The cost to attend Camp Invention is $185-$208; $20 for the 4-H Junior Campout and $125 for the $4-H County Camp; $150 for the 4-H Photo Adventure Camp. The camps at Kansas University have varying cost depending on the camp.

Gass said it was important not to get discouraged by the price of camps because some of them have scholarships available for campers. But with the slow economy there may be more competition for the money.

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