Six Steps To Choosing A Summer Camp

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, Camp Friendship in Virginia simplified the process for busy parents by creating a 6 step process to choosing a summer camp:

1. Day or Sleepaway?

When choosing a summer camp, 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

While choosing a summer camp, 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:

  • Management and Staffing: What is the Camp Director’s background? How are staff members selected, screened and trained? What supervision ratio does the camp enforce?
  • Accreditation and References: Is the camp accredited by the American Camp Association? 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 where first-time camper families are welcomed onto camp to meet staff, as well as 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.

Choosing a summer camp takes time to research. There’s a camp out there to suit every child. 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. Join Camp Friendship in Virginia.

Sign up today! 1 (800) 873-3223 or (434) 589-8950


Camp Friendship is a residential camp. If you have any questions pertaining to summer camp, sleepaway camp, coed summer camp, , horseback riding camp, tennis summer camp, overnight camp, or residential camp in Virginia, Washington DC, Maryland, North Carolina, or Pennsylvania, contact Camp Friendship at: 1 (800) 873-3223 or (434) 589-8950.

 

The Week So Far… Session 9A!

It’s our final week of the summer, and it looks like we’ve saved the best for last!

Our week began with a fun-filled campfire with performances from many of our staff members as well as some brave (and very talented!) campers.

On Monday we had some rain showers that put a few of our morning activities on hold, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t have fun, and it was all-systems go again by the afternoon!

On Monday evening we gathered together under the stars for a camp-wide cookout. As always, cookouts are filled with fun, games, dancing, laughter… and of course, s’mores!

Tuesday was our second day of activities and a chance to try some new things with our new friends. With over 35 activities to choose from, there’s no time for boredom at camp! Whether it’s a camper learning to build a shelter in Wilderness Survival or challenging their fear of heights in High Ropes, camp is a place to learn, play and grow.

On Tuesday night our Senior Campers had a pool party, and Juniors celebrated their creativity in a game called Insanity. Each cabin is required to fill a pillowcase full of random items from their cabin and then present them in the most creative way possible according to the judges’ wishes. Needless to say there was much madness that ensued, and plenty of laughter to boot!

The sun is out in full force today and everyone is enjoying day 3 – there’s singing and dancing in the Dining Hall, splashing going on at the pool and excitement all around. Tonight we’ve got Capture the Flag for Juniors and Noodle Hockey and Dodgeball for Seniors – it’s sure to be a great night! Be sure to watch our mid-week video on our YouTube Channel and keep your eye on CampInTouch each evening for the latest pictures.

The Week So Far… Session 6!

It’s the middle of Week 6 and the good times keep rolling in!

We started off the week by showing a warm welcome to our international campers who have come from all over the world to be with us this week. We’ve got a diverse group of campers from Andorra, China, Spain, France, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Canada and the United Kingdom to name just a few.

On Sunday night the good times began with campers and counselors sharing their talents on the Campfire stage as well as a very messy and muddy act which continued the Junior Boys vs Junior Girls rivalry that started a few weeks ago.

On Monday we started our week of activities and had a blast trying new things! We took our cabin and village pictures (look out for those in your envelopes on Check Out day!) and spent time in the Lake and the Pool during Free Swim. Our first full camp day ended with a camp-wide Cook Out where we had the chance to bond as a village group over hamburgers, hotdogs, taco skillet and of course s’mores!

On Tuesday we continued with our 5 daily activities, learning more about the things that interest us and getting to know our new friends. The evening activities were some camp favorites – Powder Fairies for the Juniors and Slip ‘n Slide for the Seniors. Needless to say there was plenty of laughter to be heard both on Overlook Hill and the Lower Fields on Tuesday night!

On Wednesday we continued progressing within our activities and enjoyed a much needed rest during cabin/village time… having all this fun is hard work! This evening’s activities involve a great deal of splashing – we’ve lined up Chip Cup for Juniors and the oh-so-competitive Pool Olympics for Seniors. Stay tuned for more news!

 

The Week That Was… Session 5A/4B!

As we’ve already reached the end of Week 5 here at Camp Friendship, it’s time to take a look back at all the amazing things we’ve experienced this week. As always, there’s never a dull moment here at camp, and this week has been no exception!

We started off the week by welcoming our international friends who traveled from far and wide to experience the CF way of life. Our International Flag raising ceremony showed us flags from places such as Turkey, Mexico, France, Hong Kong, Russia, Spain and more! We then jumped straight into the festivities of our Opening Campfire where our zany counselors took to the stage to perform all sorts of interesting acts. This week we had some fear-factor type eating contests, a dancing competition that ended in everyone getting soaked, and of course Camp Friendship classics such as the Jigga.

On Monday morning we received our activity schedules for the week – it’s always great to see the excitement levels rising as campers get to try out their chosen activities for the first time! This week saw the start of another Drama Production, and after the success of Law & Order: Fairytale Unit we think The Seussification of Romeo & Juliet is going to be a hit when it’s performed at the end of Week 6. On Monday afternoon the weather man decided that it was time for us to take the fun indoors, and so our Cook-Out became a Cook-In due to a rainy evening. Needless to say a little rain never dampens our spirits here at Camp Friendship and after everyone enjoyed their hamburgers and hot dogs in the Dining Hall we settled in for a cosy movie-watching session.

On Tuesday we spent the day enjoying our second day of activities and getting to know our cabin mates during Village/Cabin time. Our evening activities were some camp favorites – Pool Party for the Juniors and Tri-Cone Ultra for the Seniors which always gets ultra-exciting. 

Our camp-wide dance took place on Wednesday, and what a wild night it was! Everyone came dressed to impress in their best cowboy and cowgirl outfits, and the gym was transformed into a Saloon with hay bales and saddles for us to line dance around.

To cool things down on Thursday evening our Seniors took to the pool for a Pool Party whilst Juniors played Chip Cup on the lower fields. Chip Cup is easiest to describe as a water fight of epic proportions, and it’s always a great deal of fun!

On Friday our 2-week Equestrian Campers had the chance to show off their skills during the end-of-session Horse Show. Parents, siblings and friends were invited to attend and everyone was so very proud of the girls and their 4-legged friends for doing such a great job! Friday night saw the end of our week here at Camp Friendship in Virginia, and the Closing Campfire was a special one with many of our campers performing acts with their new friends.

At the end of every campfire we sing the Friendship Song, a camp classic that has been around for 51 summers and will remain “ever true at the camp for me”. The Friendship Song describes the Camp Friendship experience as a “symbol of my favorite memories”, and these sentiments were definitely felt at the end of this week with many tearful goodbyes on Saturday as our campers bid farewell to their new friends… until next summer! Thanks one and all for helping to make this our best summer ever! “Friendship Camp, you will never know what you mean to me.” #cfbestsummerever

The Week So Far… Session 4!

It’s the middle of the week at Camp Friendship, and we can’t believe how quickly it’s come around! We’re sure that as parents and grandparents you’re already missing your happy campers, but we can guarantee that there hasn’t been much time for missing home here at camp!

We started the week off with a bang during Sunday’s Opening Campfire where new campers were introduced to some CF classics such as the Jigga and everyone’s favorite, Radio. Much to everyone’s delight there was also a performance of the Banana Skit which seems to be this year’s trend – ask your campers to tell you all about it in their e-letters!

Monday night presented our first chance to bond as a village with a camp-wide cookout. Junior Boys took to their beloved Bikey P (Bike Pavilion) so they could be close to the gym for a few games of GaGa Ball and Dodgeball. Junior Girls and Riding Camp enjoyed their cookout and s’mores close to home in their villages while Senior Village 1 and 2 spent their time at Friendship Lake.

The sun shone brightly on Tuesday and so it only seemed appropriate to do some of our favorite evening activities, Slip ‘n Slide for Juniors and Pool Party for Seniors! Be sure to check your CampInTouch accounts for pictures, everyone had a blast! Tonight’s evening activities involve water, water and more water as the Seniors take their turn on the Slip ‘n Slide and Juniors play a game of Chip Cup. Although there are some basic rules to the game of Chip Cup, it’s best described as a giant water fight involving a few poker chips and cups of water on the lower fields… the perfect way to cool down on a hot summer’s day! 

In other news, our Drama Production campers have been working hard on their upcoming performance of Law & Order: Fairytale Unit this Friday. We can’t wait to watch all their hard work pay off with plenty of laughs and cheers from their camp friends!

On the horsey side of things, our 2-week Riding Campers are having a ball getting to know their horses and learning all about what it takes to care for their very own 4-legged friend. At the end of next week these girls will present their skills at a Horse Show which they are all very much looking forward to!

Look out for some great photos of our camp-wide dance on Friday, the theme is To Infinity and Beyond and our campers and counselors are always very creative when it comes to costumes. We can’t wait to see what they come up with!

The Week That Was… Session 1A!

Blink and you’ll miss it – we can’t believe that Week 1 of camp is already over! Although for many of our campers it went by far too quickly, we managed to squeeze in as much fun as possible, and here’s how:

We kicked off the week by welcoming our campers and staff from all over the world with our International Flag ceremony, before checking out some awesome acts at campfire. We learnt some new songs (one of which is a new favorite ‘Funky Chicken’) and witnessed some of CF’s finest campfire classics such as the Airplane Skit aka Chicken or Beef.

Excitement was in the air on Monday morning as we got ready for our first full day of activities! As always, there’s never a dull moment at camp and things got a little wet in the afternoon but as we say at camp… there’s no such thing as rain, there’s only liquid sunshine! We spent the time in our cozy cabins getting to know our cabin mates and playing games like dodgeball, shadow puppets, spoons and cards. Our dance pavilion transformed into a movie theater for our seniors which just goes to show that rain can never get us down here at camp!

On Tuesday evening it was time for Senior Villagers and Riding Campers to go head to head in an epic battle of Capture the Flag. The intensity was kicked up a gear when the campers took on the counselors…and won! The Juniors competed in a new evening activity called Get To Know Your Counselor where they had to guess all sorts of silly facts about their cool and crazy counselors with all their fun accents.

With the sun shining brightly on Wednesday we did some serious splashing with Slip ‘n Slide and a Pool Party and of course plenty break out dances when counselors were asked to ‘Show me how you get down!’

During our Thursday daily activities we started to put the skills we learned into practice in games and matches and then it was time to dress up for the big dance! We had berets, boots, flags, feathers and more as we all took to the gym floor for the Around the World boogie!

The final campfire on Friday is always bittersweet as it brings the week to a close, however there was much to celebrate with some campers receiving their 5 Year Pins for being loyal CF campers since 2013! We had some fantastic performances from groups and individuals including drama, dance, glee and more. Be sure to check out the Week 1 Wrap Up to see more, but it’s safe to say we had some really talented people here at camp this week!

We’ve been working hard to make 2017 our #bestsummerever, and so far it seems we’ve done a good job: a whopping number of Early Birders have jumped at the chance to sign up for next year! We can’t wait to see what Week 2 will bring… watch this space!

Why Camp Is a Multi-Year Experience

As active leaders in the camping industry, we know that Camp Gives Kids a World of Good. We’ve seen the studies and statistics and know that summer camp – regardless of which one you pick – can be a positive and impactful experience for any child. But is one time at summer camp enough?

We believe camp is a multi-year experience. Unlike many other long-running sleepaway camps on the east coast which offer 4 or 7 week options, Camp Friendship offers short 1 and 2-week sessions which can be combined to stay multiple weeks. We know that many first-time parents consider their first summer a ‘trial run’, and we also know how important it is for both campers and parents to feel ready for an overnight camp experience (even though at the end of the week, many first-time campers beg to be allowed to stay longer!).

Here’s 5 reasons we know that camp is best when experienced over multiple years:

1. Strengthen connections. Camp gives kids the chance to connect with others face-to-face. Campers stay friends with each other throughout the year and strengthen those existing connections at camp the following summer. Better yet, they continue to expand their circle of friends each year and, at Camp Friendship, they have the added benefit of being exposed to a global village with people who come from all over the world.

2. Practice emotional intelligence. As they get older, children need to practice the self-management of their emotions. Camp is the ideal setting to practice this as counselors serve as excellent yet subtle role models. Children expect to be told what to do and how to be by their parents… they don’t expect to be shaped by their counselors who can give them friendly advice from the vantage point of a friend who cares.

3. Guaranteed growth and progression. Not only is there the activity progression that follows the notion that ‘practice makes perfect’ in any sport or activity, but multiple years at camp offers social growth and development. It also allows campers to increase their independence from year to year. The first time at an overnight camp makes a big impact in the life of our campers, but each subsequent camp experience adds to and enhances the next.

4. Take a break from technology. We hear it every day – the ever-increasing impact of technology on humanity, and specifically children. Every year, as campers get older and become more dependent on technology, having a time set aside when they can be technology-free is a great way to help them become well-adjusted individuals.

5. Remove outside pressures that increase with age. Camp Friendship is a place to be YOU, allowing campers to join a welcoming community where they don’t need to pretend to be someone they’re not. Every aspect of camp creates a nurturing, inclusive environment where campers are encouraged to be themselves. Everyone is equal, everyone is supported, and everyone matters. The pressures from school, siblings and peers are removed, and, as parents, having these pressures removed for a period of time every year is especially appealing.

Why the World Needs Summer Camp

With all the changes our world is going through, it’s important for youth development organizations such as summer camps to change with the times to continue serving young people and their families. The world needs the next generation to be more open to learning about each other’s views, beliefs, and cultures and summer camp is a special type of community where this can happen safely and easily. Summer camp is an opportunity for children to be exposed to the best of human character, where children practice being the best they can be and are encouraged by role models who have been carefully selected for just that purpose.

While there are many different types of camps and each one differs in terms of tradition and identity, they share the common goal of supporting and developing our youth. Summer camps add a spark of magic to a child’s summer: they are wholesome, inclusive environments purposefully designed to encourage self-expression and growth. At camp, campers always take that shot at a goal, comfortable in the knowledge that the people around them will cheer them on regardless of the result. Camp experiences stay with kids forever.

Sparked by the exciting adventures that childhood brings, Camp Friendship sets the benchmark for an exceptional summer experience with tried and true methods stemming from 50 years of experience. We are eager to be active partners in your child’s journey of wonder and self-discovery, and would be happy to tell you more about the benefits of camp in person, over the phone or via email. Our family-owned camp is available throughout the year for private camp tours – give us a call to set up an appointment and we’d be happy to show you around. See you this summer!

Coed Summer Camp near Maryland

You may think its too late to be looking for a coed summer camp near Maryland, well it’s not! Check out Camp Friendship located at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains! YEs, camp may be starting all over the country, but it’s not too late to sign up for our later coed sessions. Camp Friendship has a special sleep away summer camp program in VA where they can have their own space, be free to 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 coed 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 coed summer camp near Maryland,  contact us at 1-800-873-3223.

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How Residential Camp near North Carolina Can Help in College

FebOften times, going to a traditional camp for the summer is seen as something that can be socially beneficial for a child. It offers a fun pastime over the hot summer months and gives them friendships they can keep for a long time to come. However, at Camp Friendship, attending our residential camp near North Carolina goes way beyond the realm of childish gain. It can be actually be academically beneficial as well!

Recently, it has been found that colleges are accepting students who show they are passionate about something and possess leadership skills. Children can find these skills in the residential camp activities that they will participate in every day at Camp Friendship! Whether it’s playing their favorite sports or interacting with their new friends, campers will have the opportunity to find

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what they are truly passionate about and let those passions shine! Many traditional camp programs fit well with his advice. Children grow emotionally, intellectually and physically during the summer at Camp Friendship. Our traditional camp provides campers with new experiences and exposes them to international culture and global awareness. And most importantly, we take ordinary summers and make them an extraordinary learning experience for every single camper. Taking a child outside of his/her comfort zone often helps to build confidence and self-esteem. And there are plenty of other chances for campers to gain a ton more life skills at residential camp.

Certainly, there are many factors of the college experience that cannot be helped through camp such as academic workloads and time management. But being homesick and missing parents is a natural thing for a child who goes away from home for the first time, and this often occurs at college. Campers at Camp Friendship are given the opportunity to practice coping with this homesick feeling in a supportive, stress-free environment. Campers also gain independence, and social skills from their summers at camp, by learning how to make decsions on their own, make new friends, and simply be out in the world ‘on their own’!

Learning independence, passion, leadership, and confidence are all parts of the Camp Friendship experience, and are undoubtedly important in the preparedness of going away to college. Think of camp not only as a fun summer pastime, but also as a learning experience and a key to success later in life.

If you’re ready to send your son or daughter to the best residential camp near North Carolina and get a head start on preparing college, then call Camp Friendship! Call us today at 434-589-8950 for more information or to register today!

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