Not too early to plan for summer camp
With spring days away and summer here before you know it, parents and children are already thinking about the two-month break ahead, and the best camp options for the time off from school.
With overnight, day and sports camps, choosing the best way to spend the summer isn't easy.
"There's a special camp for everything," said Susie Lupert, executive director of the American Camp Association of New York and New Jersey.
"When [kids] have a skill and can concentrate on it, it's a wonderful opportunity," she added.
General interest camps are important for younger children because they will benefit from a broader program, Lupert said.
But when a kid is a teenager and they have a passion, allowing them to focus and concentrate on it fully will make their summer fun as well as meaningful.
"It's a great benefit to attend any camp, but a specialty camp is an opportunity to focus on one skill that can be life changing for a kid," she said.
The 92nd Street Y has offered educational summer camp programming for decades.
Alan Saltz, director of that program for more than 30 years, says the definition of summer camp has evolved since the early days, when swimming and arts and crafts were the basic staples of most camps.
From digital photography to archery to robotics, the 92nd Street Y program is intended to keep kids from falling into the "summer learning gap," Saltz said.
In fact, many camps today offer programming that flexes the brain's muscles as well as the body's.
"A lot of camps are thinking all the time about the educational atrophy that occurs during the summer," he said.
Saltz agreed that the older the campers are, the more they need specialized, interesting activities during the summer.
"Teens are a population that need something unique and outstanding," he said.
92nd Street Y: 92Y.org, 212-415-5641
New York YMCA: Newyorkymcacamp.org, 877-30-YCAMP
NYC Department of Education Summer School: The city runs camps at multiple locations in each borough at low prices. schools.nyc.gov/ChoicesEnrollment/SummerSchool
City of New York Parks and Recreation: Nycgovparks.org/registration/summercamp
American Camp Association of NY and NJ: Aca-nynj.org, 212-391-5208. The non-profit's website aggregates camps from around the region with easy search options. They also offer free referrals and give certain camps accreditation.
NYMetro Parents Camp Guide: Nymetroparents.com/CampGuide.cfm: A good resource for camps all over the tri-state area.