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Camps your kids have loved

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Most of the camps in our area seem to be more about providing a summer daycare option for working parents, and less about a super neat experience.  They are really expensive for what you actually get.  For example, if I'm going to pay $400 for a M-F 8-4 gymnastics camp, I'm expecting my child to actually spend a lot of time on gymnastics, not more than half the day on crafts and movies and "free time".  And I really am annoyed that I also am expected to pack a lunch!  

 

So, I'm looking for camps to consider for next summer.  I don't really care where in the U.S. they are, and sleepaway is also fine.  I'm looking for the 10-12 age range.

 

Thank you for your suggestions!

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If you have the option, do the 1/2 day program. You'll save $.  Most of the day care activities are done in the afternoon.  The reasoning being that kids who still need child care are probably not ready for 8 hours dedicated to anything.  Even baby CTY residential programs only have 6 hours of instructions per day--no hw, the rest is fun stuff.  

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It depends on your kids interests.  My kids have had a great time doing music camps and summer theater intensives.   My teen right now is learning a bunch at a song writing camp at a music college run by professors working and teaching in the industry.  That particular opportunity is for 13+, but where I live there is something for almost ANY interest especially for older kids.

Edited by WoolySocks

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My kids have loved camps where there are a variety of things to do each day.  You can sign up for archery or sailboating or horseback riding or arts and crafts, etc.  For us, that has happened through Christian camps but I assume there are others like this as well.

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Have you checked your local museums?  We've found some good full-day camps at the science center and the museum of natural history.  I'm always impressed by how much they cover at the natural history museum.  The science museum offers lunch and before / aftercare.  They have some great programs, but you have to sign up in winter to get a spot.  :)

 

Horse camp has been a hit for one of my kids, not the other one (personality clash).  I signed up for a different horse camp for a week this year, but it's in July/August so I don't know how it's going to be yet.

 

I like the back-to-school full day camps, but this year I could not find one (for their age group) in time.  They do have one at a private school - I discovered it after our summer schedule was already packed.  My kids have aged out of most of the similar options.  I guess once you're done with 5th grade, you don't forget stuff any more.  :P

 

One of my kids likes theater camp.  Unfortunately I have not been able to find a full-day option.  I did find a sleep-away option this year.  Theater camp is great because they combine several arts and movement.

 

If part-time is an option, see what your library offers.  Ours has a number of free part-time camps for various ages, from robotics to visual arts to writing to character building ....  Unfortunately these are hard for me to utilize as a working mom.

 

My kids' favorite camp is a culture camp that is specific to their background.

 

I think the common theme in the camps we like is that they are packed with a variety of interesting things.  I know summer is for relaxing, but you can only stand so much boredom.  :)
 

My kids have gone to those daycare-type camps.  They beg me not to sign them up for those.  I don't entirely understand why.  I mean, they seem to be reasonably fun and laid-back.  Playing outdoors, swimming every day ....  But my kids apparently hate them.

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We had a misfit with a baseball camp this year.  Pretty expensive for our budget, but for the target market, it fell into the "just something to do for the week" price range.  I didn't realize that ahead of time, and my very type-A went, anticipating coaching to push him to the major leagues and got more laid back Saturday sandlot style.  

 

I hate it when stuff like that happens.

 

A surprising hit this year was music camp.  Very small, half day (except for one afternoon field trip to an art museum).  They did 3 hours of music stuff, and he left the week thrilled with what he had learned and done.  It was run by the director of the childrens' choir where a couple of my kids sing.

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Most of the camps in our area seem to be more about providing a summer daycare option for working parents, and less about a super neat experience.  They are really expensive for what you actually get.  For example, if I'm going to pay $400 for a M-F 8-4 gymnastics camp, I'm expecting my child to actually spend a lot of time on gymnastics, not more than half the day on crafts and movies and "free time".  And I really am annoyed that I also am expected to pack a lunch!  

 

So, I'm looking for camps to consider for next summer.  I don't really care where in the U.S. they are, and sleepaway is also fine.  I'm looking for the 10-12 age range.

 

 

That's a lot of money for a week of day camp. Our science museum costs $225/week (and there's a 10% member discount, so it'd actually be only about $200/week, since of course we're members anyway) - same for a nature preserve (run by the same people or something):

 

http://www.sciencebuff.org/site/learn-and-explore-menu/programs/discovery-camps

 

http://www.tifft.org/tifft/learn-and-explore-menu/programs/discovery-camps

 

Botanical gardens costs $200 a week ($180 for members):

 

https://www.buffalogardens.com/collections/kids/products/nature-explorers-art-science-camp

 

YMCA day camp out in the woods (with optional free busing from several of the area Y branches) is $207/week ($185 for area Y members) - fwiw, the Y also has day camps at their area branches, for about the same cost, including a theater camp somewhere in the area, that I have no experience with:

 

http://www.ymcabuffaloniagara.org/summer-camps/camp-tahigwa/

http://www.ymcabuffaloniagara.org/summer-camps/day-camps/

 

They also have a gymnastics camp ($198/$165 per week), but they make it clear they're doing a bunch of other things as well:

 

 

Gymnastics Camp

(Entering grades 1-8)

A non-competitive camp for boys and girls, new or already skilled in gymnastics. Parallel bars, uneven bars, vault, and balance beam are utilized. Swimming, arts & crafts, games, and outdoor education are included.

 

They all do a variety of activities though, which I think is good for elementary aged kids, and they all require you to send lunch (I'm not sure to what degree that's motivated by money, and to what degree by so many kids these days having different dietary requirements, but it's really just a fact of life that you're going to have to live with wrt day camp). Realistically, I mostly use these camps as babysitting, though I did think it was cool that my oldest got to dissect two different sea creatures at the science museum camp was cool (although he opted to just watch), but a bunch of it was just fluff that I don't care about one way or another. It's summer - fluff is okay (though not worth $400, imo).

 

So, anyway... unless you're planning on taking a vacation somewhere and sending your kids to day camp while you're at it, the above is probably not super helpful, other than to say that your camp sounds quite expensive to me for what they're offering (mind you, I could probably find day camps that cost that much around here too... I'm just saying there are plenty of cheaper opportunities). 

 

Wrt residential camps, they obviously cost more - we've had good experiences with one of the two Y camps in the area (haven't ever used the other one). This is my oldest's 4th summer at residential camp (and he went one winter weekend as well), and my youngest's 1st summer (he did Tahigwa last summer). Camp Kenan is $450/$395 a week, and Camp Weona is $619/$559 a week. I think it's worth it though because no needing to get the kids up early enough for camp, no lunches to pack, a whole week of being kid free, and the kids get some new experiences, hopefully grow some (maturity wise or w/e... you know, not having parents to rely on the entire time). I doubt the camp is special enough to travel far for - the Y has residential camps in lots of locations around the country. 

 

http://www.ymcabuffaloniagara.org/summer-camps/camp-kenan/

http://www.ymcabuffaloniagara.org/summer-camps/camp-weona/

Edited by luuknam

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When we were trying to really save money and couldn't afford camp, the kids were younger, and NC had some big snow storms.

 

Because of the snow days, everyone cancelled coming the first week due to make up days in the local schools.  They couldn't fill their spots.  Camp was $450 for 5 days, but to fill the spots, they offered the entire 5 days for $100 and opened it up to private and home school kids.  I sent both of my older boys.  They LOVED it!  It was awesome!  We couldn't afford to send them the following years, but for that year, they were good.

 

Aside from that, my boys go to boyscout camp every year, and occasionally a church camp that isn't quite so pricey.  

 

Our community college offers camps.

Local churches have VBS

One local church offered day camp for almost free (just cost of food and kids sleep in the church) and they do service projects every day.

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Oh, and camps often offer a discount if you sign up before a certain date. That date varies by the camp, of course.

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4 H camp! Weeklong, sleepover,tons of activities,cheesy camp songs & skits.

$400 a week :)

 

Dd's fav place in the world. And her dream job.

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Aside from that, my boys go to boyscout camp every year,

Boy Scout camp is one of the best deals out there. About $350 for a week (6 nights) and all meals, plus activities. At the camp my boys go to, there are 3 morning sessions and 3 afternoon sessions, and the kids can pretty much set their own schedule based on what's available. A few evenings a week there is a big vampire for the whole camp, but other evenings scouts have free time for hiking or participating in extra crafts or activities. I'm always amazed that people pay as much, or more, for a week-long day camp as we pay for a week of overnight camp.

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Oh yes, I second 4H camp.  My kids are not in 4H, but they attended one of their camps (day camp at the time).  They loved it.  When they aged into sleep-away, they had too much else going on.  Then one of my kids had some problems with sleep-away (other camps), so we don't plan on doing the 4H camp again, but I recommend it to others.  :)  The activities are great, the kids are happy.  :)

Edited by SKL

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Check if your zoo offers vamps, they've been a favorite of ours in the past. And last year youngest did a Constitutional Champions camp that was a huge hit.

 

This year in addition to scout camp youngest did a week long camp at his karate dojo and one coding camp at our local university. He is also doing a camp at MIL's local Challenger center - we've had good luck with those in the past at our local center, too.

 

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk

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My daughter has gone to Forest Home Christian Camp, near Redlands CA. They have a CCA ( Child care assistant) program during the summer. Girls ages 13-18 can go to camp for 6 days for $75. They work with the kids who are at Family Camp, with their family, in the morning. At night they babysit for a family that's at camp. They are often assigned to a family in pairs, they keep the same family the entire week. It's a great balance of work and play. The girls have their own cabins that they stay in with same aged girls, and their own counselor. They have plenty of free time to run around, swim, ride the zip line, explore etc...my daughter usually goes several weeks each summer.

 

https://www.foresthome.org/event-series/cca-summer/

Edited by mamakelly

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My daughter has gone to Forest Home Christian Camp, near Redlands CA. They have a CCA ( Child care assistant) program during the summer. Girls ages 13-18 can go to camp for 6 days for $75. They work with the kids who are at Family Camp, with their family, in the morning. At night they babysit for a family that's at camp. They are often assigned to a family in pairs, they keep the same family the entire week. It's a great balance of work and play. The girls have their own cabins that they stay in with same aged girls, and their own counselor. They have plenty of free time to run around, swim, ride the zip line, explore etc...my daughter usually goes several weeks each summer.

 

https://www.foresthome.org/event-series/cca-summer/

 

 

I had a friend who was the minister/camp pastor (not sure the exact title)  up there for many years.  And I have known many who have gone through the years, they all have had wonderful things to say about it.

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We're heading to National Institute for Homeschool Debate at Concordia University (CA) in July for the first time!

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Best ever: Concordia Language Villages; seriously life-changing for our youngest

 

Other great camps when the kids were young: Scouts of various flavors, science camps through the local small natural history museum (ages 7-12), and an awesome robotics camp at the nearby university

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Local science museum, ymca gymnastics camp, local karate camp. Usually the more physical, the better, with the exception of the science museum camps (they are awesome but not physical).

 

Costs are very local-economy dependent. If you are in a higher COL area, camp will be more expensive. Our camps are less than $200 per week, some with food, field trips, some 7 am-6pm, etc. There are more expensive camps at private schools or the University, usually tailored to elite or gifted students.

Edited by displace

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We have done a bunch of camps.  Some that my kid loved, and some that he hated.  Over the years, 4 stood out:

 

General run around in the woods and get dirty camp.  This place has a giant wooded property, and they'd pick up by bus in my urban neighborhood.  Kids would come home filthy, exhausted, with giant smiles.  There were a lot of structured activities: swimming twice a day, archery, canoeing, but also time to just fool around in the little streams that ran through the camp and sing silly songs.

 

Technology/Geek Sports Camp:  This camp was 1/2 day technology (programming, robotics, etc . . .) and half day sports, but the kind of sports kids who are not athletic do.  He played Quidditch, and Spartans vs. Trojans, and did Yoga, and other odd things.  

 

Theater Camp:  The camp he did in high school, technical theater kids went for free, which was a huge relief because the ones above were like $400 a week.  He's done that for 4 summers.

 

Football Camp: 3 nights sleepaway with his team.  

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