The Gift of Summer Camp

by Stanley Thomas

Summer camp is not a conventional holiday gift, but camp representatives say it could be a present your child will never forget. “Summer camp is a wonderful holiday gift because you are giving your child an experience — the opportunity to learn something new, meet friends, play games and have fun,” says Cindy Gamble, an administrator for the Hagley Museum Summer Camp in Wilmington, DE.

“A child can lose interest in a toy or a video game in a matter of a few short hours. The value of positive, confidence-building experiences gained in a camp’s supportive environment will last all year round,” says Gabriel Nathan, assistant camp director for the Wolf Performing Arts Center, in Wynnewood, PA.
Here are suggestions to help your child appreciate the gift of camp.

Wrap It. Many camps have gift certificates for the summer ahead, which parents can wrap with other holiday presents. Others provide brochures, videos or t-shirts to put into a gift box. “We can send a gift certificate and a welcome letter to the child,” says Riva Brown, education director of
the Hands-on-History Camp in Claymont, DE.

Explain Why. If you decide to make summer camp a holiday present in order to save money on other gifts, say so, camp officials suggest. “Parents can thoughtfully explain how they are trying to cut back on extras that they don’t need and are trying to make their money go further,” says Baily Kahn, assistant director of Camp Gan Israel in Cherry Hill, NJ.

“Most children have heard something about the economic hard times we’re experiencing, and so will be likely to understand that there might not be as much money this year as there was last year,” says Cass Winner, director of Camp Montessori in Wilmington.

“Parents should acknowledge that the world is becoming a more expensive place, that things we considered normal are now becoming special,” suggests the Hagley’s Cindy Gamble.

What Else To Say.
Jeremy Weiser, director of Camp JCC in Wilmington, suggests saying simply, “We wanted to give you something that would last a lifetime.”

“We’re giving you a summer of fun and adventure,” suggests Robert Bennethum, director of the Mathnesium of Kirkwood Highway Math Camp in Wilmington.

“Parents can tell their children that this year they have decided on something really special as opposed to a game or toy that will be exciting for a short time,” says Camp Gan Israel’s Baily Kahan. “They can go through the brochures or websites with their children and show them what they have to look forward to.”

A Word of Caution. “Parents need to talk with their child about his or her interests to determine if a particular summer camp would be appropriate,” suggests Riva Brown, education director of the Hands-on-History Camp at the Claymont Stone School, in Claymont, DE. It’s better to sacrifice the element of surprise in favor of a good camp match.

If you’re unsure which camp is right for your child, you can still give the gift of camp — saving the choice of which camp as an experience to share after the holidays.

Stanley Thomas is a local freelance writer.