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 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!


Get to know our tennis team and find out more about what happens on the courts!

Alina Ackenbom our co-founder and tennis pro spends her time coaching students and campers down at the tennis activity spot. Attracting many beginners and experienced players from our local area and summer camp Alina works closely with the tennis team to deliver an outstanding program built from her own industry knowledge which she has gained from competing in tournaments internationally from a young age. Alina is passionate about passing her own experience in tennis on to her students, campers and program staff.
So what’s been happening on the courts this summer? Anyone here at camp will often walk past the tennis court to see an intense game in action as campers battle against their component to secure the final match point. Coaches support those in play by offering direction and feedback as the game is in play which improves the players ability to make confident returns. You may also see campers working on their body movement, learning how to stand and practicing a variety of swings.
Tennis lessons at camp are fundamentally made up of activities and match games. Players sometimes start out by taking part in a tennis rally where campers split into two teams and make a transition from one line to the next after taking a swing at the ball. At this time campers are practicing reaction time and hand movement whilst getting warmed up for the sessions main game.
In recent activity, this week some players practiced drills whilst others battled to hold onto their crown in ‘King of the courts.’ In king of the courts one camper plays as king whilst rallying with another camper to hold the king of the court position and stay in play with the next component. Players love this game as it gives them a chance to take on many players at once and support each other’s efforts.
On Wednesday, senior village counselor Chris took some time to instruct campers on how to stand and intercept the ball in order to gain more control. Chris did this by taking some time to work one on

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one with players whilst others rallied. Together they practiced hitting the tennis ball as hard as possible at the wall of the court. Whilst doing this Chris demonstrated a good standing position to hold, explaining how tennis is about short sharp movements. campers also practiced following Chris’ movements as Chris held the ball focusing purely on reaction and body movement.

That’s all from the courts for now but don’t forget to check out my next blog post on Friday where I will be highlighting some more of this weeks activity at Camp Friendship!

What happens in our gymnastic centre? Everything from trampolining to aerial silk performance!

If there’s one place that highlights commitment to activity and brilliant mentorship around camp, it’s our gymnastics centre. Sadly It’s not every day that staff, campers or parents get the opportunity to see all the tricks that happen in our gymnastics classes, but after finding out information on the program highlights, many campers are instantly signing up for sessions and can’t wait to make use of our studio and equipment. That’s why I have decided to uncover some of the program details and information to you in this blog post.

Even at first glance the hand painted forest scene of the buildings exterior reflects camps creative personality. When you set foot into the studio which was partially built by our founder Chuck Ackenbom you can instantly see instructors educating and supporting campers on their technique. This immediately makes you think ‘Wow, why haven’t I been here before!?’ Kay Walsh, our Gymnastics Director works together with her team of dedicated instructors to offer skilled tuition from beginner level right up to level 9.


With a multitude of returning campers eager to get started on the program each year, participators look forward to an exciting week of gymnastics which includes tumble track, bars and beam. In the trampoline activity campers perform seat drops and the week is ended with free play/volt board sessions. Towards the end of weekly sessions we begin to smile as we notice how students have developed from having little confidence or knowledge in the area to completely letting go and attempting the moves.

As well as the mentioned activities, campers can experience the silks activity, where some students work towards building a dance routine with a difference. You are suspended in the air! Silks expert Ashley explained to me how students take on different climbs depending on which part of their body is most suitable for the exercise and skill level. Silks exercises nearly every muscle in the body, as well as improving flexibility, balance and strength. It can also battle a fear of heights!


Throughout winter the centre celebrates the Winter Fest show which is a contest worked towards by year round students and instructors. In the summer a variety of programs run and a close knit tuition pattern works well with attenders, it’s amazing to see the results for campers after just a short time in the gymnastics centre.

Part of our gymnastics philosophy states that instructors want kids to have

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an enjoyable experience and learn how to move and think about how the body learns. We believe that to learn something we must see it, hear it say, it and do it.

But don’t just take my word for it, you can find out more about our gymnastics program on our website at

You’ve never had a friend like me!

We hope you’re having a wonderful summer so far. For staff at camp It’s pretty hard to believe that we’ve already hit week four of our summer season. We’ve seen thousands of memories being created around our villages in the past few weeks and we are so pumped to greet our new comers each Sunday knowing that we will start to see life lasting moments for our campers.

Riding Camp Counselors

As many of you know, we find no better way to begin a fresh week of camp than with a classic camp fire. This week the audience were filled with laughter whilst watching a comedy skit about a Chinese takeaway order gone wrong acted out by some of our junior boys counselors. Riding girls DJ misk-a-lot took to the stage with their seventh performance this year – a campified version of chart song ‘Honey, I’m good.’ This left the crowd tapping their feet and excited to begin their time at camp. As the camp fire ended kids held hands and swayed to The friendship song before heading back to villages for a much needed rest.

Around activity areas many of our campers are in the midst of preparing for our Aladdin performance which will be unveiled to the whole of camp in the drama theatre on Friday. Some of our dance students began working on sequence routines under the guidance of our wonderful dance mentor and co-director Lauren. Lauren gave campers the chance to suggest moves they feel should be in the performance to Aladdins ‘friend like me’ Our second director Cody has used his charisma and energy to engage campers in rehearsals, helping actors to build on their confidence and stage presence. Our support staff and CIT’s have worked behind the scenes, painting the stage and making props for the show.

Drama Production

At camp we work together as a community to make our events a representation of group activity. We are sure to see something special in the drama pavilion on Friday. Magic carpets at the ready!

In other dance pavilion activity, Campers have been trying out the head stand position under the instruction of Ashley and Gemma. Did you know that yoga Increases our flexibility ? According to There are specific yoga postures that positively affect various joints and stress points of the body.Yoga synchronises body, mind and breath and according to recent studies, that’s why there are over 20 million Yogi’s in the US. Camp is definitely a great time to introduce or build yoga into daily activity for campers.


We have rounded off each day with evening activities. On Monday we held a pool party in the sun for senior village which was a great window for campers to unwind and bond. Junior and riding villages were visited by the powder fairies who invaded our lower field areas. The obstacle of this game is to retrieve a word from each counselor without getting flour thrown on you by one of the three powder fairies at which point you must quiz or sing your way out to the next obstacle. On Tuesday junior campers enjoyed the chip cup activity and senior village held their own Olympic contest with all sorts of tasks including the slow motion race. Watch out for our weekly video update which will show you some action from our evening activities.


Heading to the second half of this week, we continue to get geared for our Aladdin performance and begin making props for our Wild West themed dance tomorrow!

Camp Friendship celebrates 4th of July with our famous color wars


IMG_8125At camp we kicked off Fourth of July celebrations on Thursday at our IndepenDANCE. Campers dressed up in patriotic attire and happily danced the evening away in our gymnasium. During celebrations a surprise guest appearance was made from Mother Earth who had briefly greeted campers at morning flag and returned to a sound track of thunder with Zeus, Poseidon and the Vulcan goddess to announce that the next earth leader would be chosen at Fridays Color Wars. Two captains for each Gods team were elected and dreams of color wars filled the mountains.

For those who haven’t heard of color wars, I’m referring to a huge competition between three teams that takes part at camp each year and has become a famous camp tradition. As Morning events kicked off, team members gathered in their head quarters where they addressed who would take part in the lake or land activities, after designating rolls team members ran to their lake or land activity. Participants of land activities dodged their way to victory in dodgeball and volley ball whilst chanting for each other. In lake activities campers took part in the water melon relay and canoe activity.


Campers headed next to silent lunch, that’s right, speaking will dock off points from your teams result and impressive performances may add a few points to your score! Counselors got up and performed a spot of synchronised dancing as campers communicated with hand gestures trying to resist the temptation to answer any of the supervisors trick questions. Blue team performed a Mexican wave performance in a bid to secure points. Members of each team stood up to do ‘the wobble’ before joining the conga line to dance to one directions you don’t know you’re beautiful.


To follow the rest of today’s story and see our highlights don’t forget to tune into our special color wars edition of our weekly camp video update !

Get a feel for Camp in our Week Three Update.

There is no calming feeling like the one you get when you escape from a busy day to find yourself at one of camps more peaceful areas. If you’ve ever taken a right turn before our pool area and looked past the trees surrounding our gymnasium, you will have had the pleasure of stumbling upon the Media Cabin. This is a chilled zone where our digital photography students spend time reviewing and editing their photographic pieces. Our media cabin is the perfect retreat for campers to practice art and take a break from the more physical activities around us. Digital Photography is the answer to a balance of tranquility amongst the lively atmosphere at Camp!

Campers have been exploring the beautiful nature and wildlife that our mountains have to offer. Campers have enjoyed discovering the interesting shapes and textures to incorporate into their creations. Digital Photography tutors have been encouraging campers to choose a themed outcome for their work such as a photo album or photo cube.

3ablogpostHere is one of our Senior Campers reviewing images and trying out different retouching methods.
On Monday evening, campers played the Counselor Hunt activity. Starting at our flag point, campers excitedly explored Camp in order to uncover the hiding places of counselors. The winning team were the Riding Dudes And Dudettes who found a grand total of fifteen counselors stationed around camp. Campers waited eagerly outside Scott hall whilst votes were counted in secrecy by Ashling, our target sports supervisor and Peanut our Lake Supervisor. The winning prize was first prize for activity swap although as a consolation prize every participator received a high five from our judges.

IMG_8395revisedIn senior activities, campers strapped on their running shoes for the Tri-cone activity, where the aim of the game is to take a cone from the opposing teams and not get caught returning that cone to your base area. Well done to the green team who were the over all champions of the evening.


In other news, campers have been working in the variety of Arts and Crafts programs we offer at camp. These include panting, drawing, pottery wheel and more ! This week we have seen some campers moulding clay models of their counselors or creatively making patterns on their finished cups or pots. What’s for sure is that each camper has their own unique vision of what they want to create and there is an interesting diversity around the Arts and Crafts studios.

3AblogaacDon’t forget to tune in to the next update of our Camp Blog this Friday and keep updated with Camp Photographs on Camp Minder.

Zombie Virus Outbreak At Camp Friendship

Anyone who’s been at camp over the past few days will have spotted cryptic posters scattered around villages by our junior boys counselors. The messages were headlined ‘Camp Friendship is set to be swarmed by a lethal strain of the FFX-1966 VIRUS’ and urged any campers and staff to speak to junior boys counselors if feeling unwell, to which they were greeted with stories about the zombie virus outbreak. Zombie Apocalypse CF


As campers prepared for the zombie apocalypse dance which took place on Thursday evening, Cody became the first counselor to be captured at lunch break by Alex, our high ropes expert and new found zombie disinfectant agent. Campers rose from their chairs with excitement as the junior boys counselors ran across the dining hall in full costume screaming ‘he’s got me.’

After a day of activities campers entered the hall for dinner feeling excited. Some campers were already dressed up for the evenings activities and some went back to cabins to prepare their makeovers.2AA

The Zombie Apocalypse Dance went down a storm. Against the sound of beating rain there was a wonderful atmosphere of chaos and fun. Campers did the limbo, had a chance to have a dance with the whole of camp and admired each others costumes whilst telling each other their characters stories.IMG_6992 2ABOur junior boys counselors delivered a skit performance delivered by Ben who acted as a news reporter. Ben began the skit by reporting on the zombie outbreak around camp, closely followed by an outbreak of disinfectant agents that came into the audience from various store cupboards to seize the crowd. This performance made a tremendous impact on not just the evening but was the finale of

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this weeks themed activity.


In other news, during activities on Friday, some of our campers enjoyed the fencing program by taking part in a game of roundheads and cavaliers. This is a game where campers split into two teams and can battle anyone on the opposing side. In this case one camper put up a good fight when he took on the challenge of defeating three remaining opponents.


Today we look forward to performances at our weekly closing camp fire before opening for week three at camp.

Also don’t forget to check out our weekly video which will be released today.

What’s new in week two of Camp?

Week two is well under way and since arriving at Camp, campers have been smiling from cheek to cheek. On Sunday we enjoyed some special Camp Fire performances, including a junior girls rendition of Katy Perry’s firework. A dodge ball slow motion ballet performance from the junior boys counselors was a unique sketch that received a special camp ‘O’vation. For those of you that don’t already know, this happens when a performance is outstanding and members of the audience raise their arms up into an O shape.

Senior village decided they were staying seated when they got down to the stage, where they acted out hand movements onto a table in fast unison. This was a particularly notable act, leaving the crowd ready to go forward into the weeks activity and also considering their own camp fire performance for our next camp fire which will take place on Friday.


Go Senior Village!

As they have began to explore our activities and enjoyed settling into camp life since Sunday, campers have been spending time by the lake, enjoying the sun and getting the chance to enjoy water activities around camp. Many campers have had their first attempt at rope swing and others have teamed up to paddle their way under the bridge at canoeing. Our fishing activity has been more popular than ever and there have even been a few catches down there! Good work.


Catch of the day.

Stepping away from lake activity, Our ESL teacher Becky has been leading the way in interactive language teaching and our international campers are enjoying the opportunity to experience a lesson that defies straight forward text book teaching. Becky makes memorable language classes by encouraging campers to connect with each other by asking each other questions then deciding whether each question belongs in the present, future and past tense section.


Campers decide where they stand on each phrase.

So what’s next? Moving into the later half of this week campers will enjoy dining outside at our cook out events tonight before preparing to get scary at the Zombie Apocalypse dance tomorrow evening. Don’t forget to check out our photography gallery at camp in touch, and watch out for our new video release this Friday which will be available to view on the camp friendship youtube and vimeo.

3,2,1, Jump !


Imagination continues to run wild at Camp Friendship as we dive into summer.

We could not be happier to see the smiling faces of children from across the world come to life as they begin to select and take part in the activities that they are going to enjoy over summer.

Have you been wondering what’s been happening around camp over the past few days?
Campers have been diving from boards, swinging from ropes, getting out arts and craft supplies and tying the first friendship bracelets of Summer 2015. In this update of our Friendship blog I am going to share some of this weeks activities with you.

Our campers took part in either our chip cup activity which combines a crazy combination of catching plastic chips in a cup before swapping them for water or got muddy at our slip and slide activity. (There was not one person left uncovered by the end!) These activities took place during our afternoon sessions and were a great way for campers to bond by letting their hair down and their inhibitions go.

Campers then danced their way into Wednesday evening at our camp cook outs. Our team of dedicated counselors prepared different locations around their villages and welcomed Campers to enjoy our outdoor dining experience. Camp cook outs give villages the opportunity to bond with each other and their counselors. Junior girls and boys enjoyed their camp cook out in their pavilion areas whilst senior village set table at the lake side!


On Thursday I caught up with some our campers

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their favorite thing about camp is; and here’s what they said,

Activities. Friends. Food. Ponies. Riflery. Camp Fire. Canoeing.

Everyone loves camp!

Don’t forget to check out our exclusive camp video upload including a taste of our Royal ball evening activity, our video update will be available to you on youtube and vimeo.

It’s one not to miss!


Campers prepare for our Summer Ball by making accessories in our arts and crafts facility.