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Let's Chat: Sleep Away Camps

posted on: April 17, 2018


Lately, the conversations at school and on the playground, or between a few of my friends who are parents, happen to be about summer camp. The where, what, how long, which one, will they be with a friend etc... It is midly comparable to the process of searching and applying for schools around the city. It is a buzz that drives conversations and empties wallets. This new milestone in motherhood has me thinking of how important sleep away camps can be (all the memories!), but also, how difficult it can be to choose if and when is the right time for your child.

Now that River is 7, and many of her older girlfriends are leaving for sleep away camp this summer, I've been sitting with the idea more and listening to her more. Right now, neither one of us are into it, and I am happy with that. But it also has me thinking about the one summer I went away for a few days and roasted marshmallows, went on the zip-line, and bunked with a few girlfriends. We stayed up giggling and slept on hard-as-wood mattresses. Do you have a favorite sleep away camp memory?

But when is a good time?  In general, I like when River leads into a comfort zone (since she is shy) and then we both approach it together as we feel most comfortable.


(Photography by Melanie Rodriguez )

8 comments:

  1. Hi hi! I have feelings about this. I went to a sleep away camp in the Catskills for years and while they talked about friendship and kindness as part of their value system, it was filled with bullies and if you didn’t fit in, you wore SOL. So, I’d just make sure to really talk to the folks that work there and see how much they prioritize their camp being a place free of bullying, etc.

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  2. For us, there is a small local over night camp (5 day stays) that is literally 3 miles from our house. I figured we'd dip a toe in that way to see how he liked it. He's been going to summer day camps forever, and long vacations with the grandparents away from us, so we knew homesickness was probably not going to happen. What really helped was planning with parents of his classmates, we all sent them together and signed them up as bunkmates, so his first time out, he had about 5 classmates with him, and it was everyone's first camp experience. This year, we're signing him up for his 4th year, and we still coordinate with friends so they can have fun together. Hopefully, you will have the option to find a camp nearby, and that is easy to reserve with a friend or preferred roommate. Some kids in his class STILL aren't into sleepover camp though, but they are able to come as "day campers" and hang all day and go home at 9pm or something though. It's a really good option for those who want to do camp things, but not sleep there (if you're nearby to the camp!).

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    1. I really LOVE this, thank you! I was thinking that it may be good to do with a few friends, when she was ready. But also, nearby, not too far so I can go and retrieve her if she didn't like it.

      Thank you!

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  3. I started going to Girl Scout camp at 9. You can go for 4 days your first summer and build up to 6 weeks. Although my camp was in East Hampton, it was rustic and in the woods. We slept in platform tents and had cookouts twice a week. After eight years as a camper I ended up becoming a counselor and worked there for five years. Personally, I thought the youngest were too young but that 9/10 was the perfect ageN in terms of going with friends or on your own- it depends! I have seen it work out wonderfully when the girls love it and have an amazing time, and terribly when they bring drama from home with them or become jealous when one friend starts befriending new people. Ask your daughter what she is interested in and go from there!

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  4. I don't have kids (yet), but growing up I never went to sleep away camps and having been a shy child, I can't imagine my parents even signing me up for it. What they DID do though, is send me away for the summer to the east coast (I grew up in California) where I had family and cousins my age. It was great for me because I spent time with family I normally wouldn't get to see on a regular basis and gave my mom a much needed break for 2 months a year from age 6-14.

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    1. I really love this! As a starter. River has family down south, and I definitely need the break, so may look into it for a few weeks this summer. Thank you

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  5. I went to a YMCA day camp and loved it! They'd do weekend sleep aways which were enough for me.

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    1. Hey Lindsey, I love the idea of weekend sleep aways!

      Thanks so much for sharing.

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