When New Jersey mom Laurie Brown chose a day camp for her children, certain conveniences were a must.
Sharing time between her residence in Cherry Hill and a vacation home in Margate, Brown needed the flexibility of having transportation to and from both cities. The Medford JCC camp in Medford was able to meet her needs by providing bus service to both places.
Today, beyond a safe environment and abundance of activities, families like the Browns are selecting camps that make life convenient for the whole family.
“We certainly want to make things as convenient as possible for our busy and hectic camp families,” says Steven Bernstein, director of Diamond Ridge Camps in Jamison, PA. “When you’re talking about taking care of other people’s children, safety and supervision are always going to be the most important concern. But when you’re talking about a parent, it’s the customer service, flexibility, and being there for the families when they need you.”
Racquel Palma, co-chair of the annual Community Camp Fair at Tower Hill in Wilmington, DE, works with more than 100 different camps. She says parents with particular needs, such as an extended camp day or transportation, can usually find what they’re seeking. “There are a lot of options out there,” she says. As you look into a camp for your child, be sure to ask about conveniences you need
|Extended hours can be important when choosing a camp, particularly when both parents work. Many camps offer early morning and late afternoon sessions to accommodate parents’ schedules
|Camp meals have come a long way from PB&J and bug juice. Catered lunches, healthy snacks and buffets with hot meal choices give parents the convenience of not packing a lunch. “Our pricing includes meals and snacks, so parents don’t have to pack a lunch or worry about refrigerating things,” explains Keith VanDerzee, CEO, YMCA Camp Ockanickon in Medford, NJ.
|Choices in session length and schedule are important as family schedules sometimes make it difficult to devote 4 or 8 straight weeks to camp. Many camps now offer 1- or 2-week sessions, or even part-day or part-week sessions.
|Financial Aid is offered by some camps. Others have money-saving positions available, including parents hired to work in exchange for a discount on camp fees. At some camps, parents can drive vans, work in the office, or be counselors.
|Transportation tops many families’ must-have list. Many day camps furnish buses or vans that pick kids up and drop them off at their homes, or at a stop very close to their homes.
|A choice of locations allows families greater flexibility in finding convenient options, particularly for specialty camps. For example, the Phillies Baseball Academy offers several locations throughout PA, NJ and DE.
You can search the MetroKids Camp Guide for camps that offer transportation, extended or partial day, and other conveniences. See: Additional Services,
Terri Akman is a local freelance writer.