6 Steps to Choosing a Summer Camp

When it comes to summer camps, there’s a lot more involved than just campfires, s’mores and sing-along songs. As a parent, you might already have come to the realization that picking the right summer camp for your child isn’t easy… it’s an important and time-consuming decision.

As leaders in the camp industry, we’ve simplified the process for busy parents by creating a 6 step process to choosing a summer camp:

1. Day or Sleepaway?
First things first, simplify your options. While there are hundreds of camps out there, you need to decide first and foremost whether you’ll be picking a day camp, an overnight camp or a combination of both for the summer. The most important part of this step is involving your child in the decision-making process. Some 7 year olds are ready for overnight camp, others are not; and parents need to be ready too. Session length is also a consideration when thinking of overnight camps as some offer 1 week sessions and others offer 2,3,4 and full-summer options.

2. Specialized Programming or General Fun?
Consider your child’s interests: what do they enjoy doing and what new activities would they like to try? Are you hoping for them to enjoy a wide range of experiences or do you want to opt for a specialty camp that focuses on a particular activity or set of skills? Nowadays camps offer all sorts of specialized options including horseback riding, circus and performing arts, sports, science and computer-based activities and more.

3. Philosophy and Mission: Does It Match Yours?
Now that you’ve narrowed it down some, it’s time to get to know the camp itself. What are you looking for in a camp? What should you be looking for? A sure-fire way to check whether a camp is the right fit is to consider your own parenting philosophy and whether the camp’s philosophy matches this: what is their view on competition, conflict resolution, flexibility and free-choice, are they affiliated with a religion etc. Another aspect to consider is the children that make up the camp’s community – would they all be from the same area or does the camp welcome children from out-of-state or other countries?

4. Consider the Costs
The general rule of thumb is that the earlier you sign up for camp, the cheaper it is. Some camps may offer financial aid or payment plans as well as sibling discounts or multiple week discounts. Check whether tuition is all-inclusive or if there are additional costs for transportation, specialized activities, out-of-camp trips etc.

5. Ask Questions:

All camps should have a helpful FAQ section on their website which will most likely provide answers to questions you hadn’t even thought to ask. The American Camp Association suggests parents ask questions relating to:

  • Accreditation and References: Is the camp accredited by the American Camp Association and are they willing to provide previous camper families as references? What is their return rate for campers and staff?
  • Facilities and Food: How are campers bunked and what are the bathroom facilities like? How does the camp accommodate fussy eaters or food allergies?
  • Health & Wellness: How does the camp handle medical issues and manage camper medications? What about special needs? Are there health care professionals on-site and where is the closest medical facility? How is homesickness handled? What is the camp’s stance on behavior management?
  • Activities and Program Goals: How does the camp assign campers their activities – is it free-choice or do they receive a structured schedule as a group or individuals? Which is better for your child? How does the camp structure free time into a typical day?
  • Communication: How can you stay in touch with your child during camp? Does the camp allow electronics or is it technology-free?

6. Pay Them a Visit:
For a nervous camper (or parent!) there is nothing better than actually visiting the camp to ease any anxieties. Many camps have Open House Days during this time of year where first-time camper families are welcomed onto camp to meet staff, see the facilities and ask questions. Some camps also offer private tours just for you and your family. If you live too far away to visit, some camps may have camp videos or virtual camp tours on their websites which may be helpful.

Ready to start searching? Try the ACA’s Camp Search on www.campparents.org.

There’s a camp out there to suit every child, and when you consider the fact that over 14 million people attend camps annually in the United States alone, it becomes easy to recognize that there must be something special and beneficial about the experience.

If you’re interested in learning more about Camp Friendship, join us at our Open House on April 22nd.

Overnight Camp near Maryland

If you’re looking for a overnight camp near Maryland, check out Camp Friendship located at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Camp Friendship has a special sleep away summer camp program in VA where they can have their own space, be free to

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be themselves and enjoy a new sense of responsibility. This program is for teenagers who want to explore new interests, learn new skills, and participate in a rewarding summer. A overnight summer camp experience can provide teenagers with independence, social values, and confidence. Camper’s develop a sense of accomplishment through activity skills and enhance their personal growth and independence.

Your teen has the opportunity to meet international campers, build social values and confidence, gain independence and create wonderful memories when they spend their summer at Camp Friendship. To schedule a tour or for more information about our teen camp in VA, contact us at 1-800-873-3223.


Audio Revival having fun jumping in a pool

Sleepaway camp in Virginia, help your child have a great time at camp

Art_&_Craft_CFSummer camp is a place where kids go to have fun, but they also learn so many important life skills. The camp facility at ourVirginia sleep away camp leads to outdoor knowledge and appreciation, confidence building, and of course we can’t forget to mention the lifelong friendships that come out of a summer at Camp Friendship.

While so many great things come out of a summer camp experience, it’s common for children to feel an uneasiness about going away to camp. Here are some tips to help your child have, not only a great time, but a successful time at camp.

Listen/Talk About Concerns:
As the countdown to camp gets closer and closer, your children may begin to feel an uncertainty about going away to camp. Being away from home for the first time, (and even for return campers), and not having your family right by your side can seem scary! Ask your child how they feel about the summer camp program, and try to communicate your confidence in them to succeed. Remind them that summer camp is about having fun! Addressing any concerns your child may have before they get to camp, can definitely help them to relax and regain that excitement to ensure they have the best camp experience they can!

During Camp:
Communicate via writing! Ask specific questions about activities, camp life, friends, etc. While it’s ok to write that you miss your child, try to steer clear of comments such as “Champ the dog really misses you,” or “The house is so quiet without you here…”, etc.

If you are planning on sending packages, try to send things like postcards, cartoons, game books, puzzles, and other things that can become conversation starters. This can help ease interactions between children, as they have something to show, and/or a group activity to ask others to participate in.

If your child is expressing pleas to come get them, let them know that you love them and are confident in their abilities to get through it, and have a great time! You can always talk to the camp director/counselors, to get their advice on the situation. Camp professionals have been doing this for years, and will have great insight into the situation and tips on how to handle it.

Come the end of camp, your child will typically thank you for encouraging them to stay!! And, more importantly they will have gained experience and life skills that will help them as they grow!

We have a first time camper orientation taking place on Saturday April 25 from 11am – 12pmContact us for more information. And feel free to contact with any questions/concerns about camp as the countdown to summer camp continues!

Virginia Summer Camp Open House

There are just 59 days left til Summer Camp is in session at Virginia’s Camp Friendship!
We are certainly getting ready for the upcoming summer camp season, and hope you are too! We’d like to invite you to our Spring Open House taking place this Saturday April 20th from 11:00am to 3:00pm.

Open house is a time for families and friends to come spend a few hours getting to know us. It will give you an opportunity to get an introduction to Camp Friendship, as well as meet our directors, founder, some of the staff that will be with your children during their stay at Camp Friendship, and also some of the other camp families!

Open house is the perfect time to get answers to any sleepaway summer camp questions you may have! You’ll also have the chance to check out the facilities. Visit the dining hall, living areas, program areas, watch camp videos, and have some snacks and refreshments.

If you are unable to make it just give us a call (1-800-873-3223) to schedule a tour, and we will be happy to make the necessary arrangements.

Camp Friendship is located at 573 Friendship Way, Palmyra, VA 22963

Horseback Riding at the Friendship Equestrian Center in Virginia

Friendship Equestrian Center

Have you ever been so excited about something that it was impossible to say for certain if it was real or a dream? If a pony could pinch, I would have pinched myself to see if it was true. When I backed off the trailer to discover I was at Friendship Equestrian Center in Virginia, I was nothing short of amazed. I had heard it whispered in the night and whinnied in the fields when no one was around – that Camp Friendship is the place to be. And now I’m here! I’m still learning the ropes but I’m as happy as…well…a pony at Camp Friendship! I’m enjoying my winter time off and spending it with my friends, especially Beyonce and Emma. We did come from the same farm, you know. I’m such a good pony and so smart that Riding Director Skye and Barn Manager Mandi decided to name me “Call Me Maybe” for my fancy show name or Carly for short. This way, other horses and ponies would know to call on me if they had any questions at al, just like the famous song on the radio! Everyone already knows they can call on me anytime to see what’s going on because I keep my eyes and ears ready for new information at all times. I do know some info that may be interesting to you. And here it is!

Spring Break Camp at Camp Friendship, I found out, runs just like Summer Camp. Each camper is assigned their own horse for the entire week. They participate in two lessons daily, and even go on trail rides. There are also fun evening activities like hay rides and campfires every night. I can’t wait to see my first hay ride come through the field or smell the delicious scent of marshmallows roasting on a fire. Emma has told me all about it and I might just have to see if I can sneak a marshmallow when those silly humans aren’t looking!

Spring Break Camp Dates:
March 25-29 for the first session and April 1-5 for the second session.

I also heard about the Girl’s Riding Weekends that will be held April 12-14 and May 17-19. They sound like a great way to try out Equestrian Camp for the first time, or for those girls that just can’t wait for summer to be here! The one I’m interested in seeing the most is the Mother Daughter Weekend held May 10-12. It just sounds like a great way to spend Mother’s Day!!

The last tidbit of information I heard is that Camp Friendship is so very excited to have returning staff from last year back again for 2013. They include Ashley White, Brittany Powell, Katie Gaffney, Kaitlyn Morelli, Meghan Harris, and Rachel Perez. I can’t wait to meet them. I’ve heard such wonderful things about the Camp Friendship Staff. What I’m most excited for though is meeting my first group of campers at the Spring Break Camps. I hope I will see you there!

Why Summer Camp? Come Find Out! Camp Fairs, Webinars, and more!

Having time off from school can definitely help alleviate some stress from your kids, and also transfer that stress right on to you, the parents! Instead of driving to and from the pool, sports fields, and play dates this summer, feel free to sit back and relax, and let Camp Friendship take care of it. Camp brings the experiences of many summer activities to one location! As a parent, what better way to get your child to try something new than to send them to camp? We combine many different programs here at Camp Friendship into one amazing summer. Our options include everything from archery, badminton, lacrosse, tennis, and horseback riding to arts and crafts, photography, themed dances, and much more. Our complete programs and activities list highlights all the fun options that Camp Friendship provides to your child this summer, so that you don’t have to!

Interested in finding out even more about what Camp Friendship has to offer to your child? We will be attending a number of Camp Fairs in the coming months so you can see us in person.

CharlottesvilleFamily Fun Fair and Camp Expo
February 10th, 2013
Time: 10 am – 3pm

Doubletree Hotel
Hilton Heights Rd
Charlottesville, VA


West End Community Center
February 16, 2013

8102 Ridge Rd
Richmond, VA 23229



Can’t make it to see us in person? Join us online instead! Talk directly with our Camp Director, to get all your questions answered before this upcoming camp season!

February 12th @ 1pm

Register Now!

You can also read what the campers are saying on the Camp Friendship website! Our testimonials page lets you read first hand, previous campers summer experiences at Camp Friendship. Find out about Camp Friendship and see if it is the right fit for your child. Make this the best summer yet for your kids, and for you!

On The Road To Summer Camp Fairs!

Thank you to everyone for stopping by and seeing us this past weekend. Camp Friendship was busy talking to new families and current camp families. It was really nice seeing all of you. I even got to meet families that had been campers 20 and even 30 years ago, who stopped by to say hello. The Bushor family even stopped by to visit with us at the Dulles Town Center, it was a lot of fun!

This weekend we are back on the road and we’d love to see all of you there. Liz and I will be at White Flint Mall greeting our friends and families on Saturday and on Sunday Chuck Ackenbom and Lauren will be taking over. Alina will be traveling down to Charlotte, NC to see our North Carolina families, so please stop by if you are in the area. Skye will be in Columbia, MD ready to answer any questions you have about our programs, specially riding camp programs. We can’t wait to see you all there!


An Open House At Your House

Camp Friendship would like to invite all of our camp families and interested families to host a Camp Friendship Open House in their own homes. Yup, we want to pack your house full of families interested in the camp experience… just kidding! Let me tell you how the In-House Open House works and how it will benefit you and your friends.

First and foremost an interested Open House host will have to invite a minimum of three new families who may be interested in the camp experience at Camp Friendship. A Camp Friendship staff member, usually our Director or Assistant Director, will come to the host families home with a small presentation for all families in attendance. Now here’s where your first benefit kicks in, our Open House host will automatically be discounted $75.00 off of their child’s camp tuition for the upcoming summer just for hosting the Open House. It doesn’t matter if any families sign up for camp or not, we are just happy for the opportunity to talk about our camp.

Now if this little In-House Open House really gets exciting and your friends really feel Camp Friendship is the right fit for their children and lets say all three new families sign up for a Camp Friendship summer. Now our host family would receive a FREE WEEK OF CAMP for the upcoming summer! This free week of camp is only available if the three new families that sign up were in attendance at the host families Open House.

Camp Friendship is excited to extend this offer to all of our camp families, so please call us to schedule your In-House Open House. Let Camp Friendship share your overnight camp experience secret with your friends and family today. Call us at 1.800.873.3223 or email us with questions or comments about our In-House Open House. We will be monitoring this post as well so feel free to drop us a comment with questions or suggestions.

See you soon,