Overnight/Travel Sleep away camps

10 Coolest International Overnight Camps

This summer we yearn to explore new places and international sleep-away camps could be just the thing to make up for the past year of shelter-in-place.

Below are 10 of the coolest international overnight camps around the world, ranging from soccer camps in Europe to cultural exchange in Costa Rica to horseback riding in England to a sports camp in Australia. The camps below allow a variety of ages, interests and experiences.

Soccer Camps International offers Elite International Youth Soccer Camps in England, Spain, France, Italy and Portugal with famous European soccer clubs like Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Atletico de Madrid, Juventus, AC Milan, Paris Saint Germain, Benfica Lisbon and more. Many of these Official Summer Soccer Camps provide soccer training sessions at the Exclusive Official Club Training Sites where the Clubs First Team and Academy players practice daily. Boys and Girls ages 7 to 18 years old can choose from residential or day camp sessions, goalkeeper sessions, and language options (Spanish and French). Players from all over the world participate at these elite camps each summer to experience soccer at his best!

French International Language Camps are held in the French Alps and includes sports and cultural activities and a complete French and English language teaching program. Summer and winter programs for children and teens 6 to 17 years old are total immersion experiences with a multi-lingual team and with children from all over the world.

Les Elfes International Summer Camp

Les Elfes Summer & Winter Camps. Les Elfes offers summer and winter camps in Switzerland. Summer students from 6-17 years old spend 2-4 week-sessions in Verbier, one of the most famous ski resorts in Switzerland! Students will enjoy their days with outdoor activities, language classes, sports, and excursions. Over 40 exciting outdoor activities are available, such as rock climbing, mountain biking, ropes courses, wakeboarding, tubing, paragliding, basketball, hiking, swimming, ice skating, tennis, golf, horseback riding and many more.

Les Elfes Winter Camp offers ski or snowboard lessons, from very beginner to advanced level, combined with optional language lessons and exciting after-ski activities and excursions.

Gakko. This two week summer program takes place in Kagoshima Japan and brings together a mentors from industry experts, graduate students and college students to create an experience that is truly one of a kind.

Costa Rica Youth Exchange. This summer program gives high school students an opportunity to live with a host family in Costa Rica and experience the real community and culture. Students will learn Spanish and go on excursions and participate in local activities.

Camp Cooper. Camp Cooper is an overnight camp based in Scotland for kids 7-17 from around the world. Camp sessions range from one week to five weeks, and they offer a variety of activities, including dance, journalism, circus skills, mountain biking, film-making, sports, and more. Additionally, they offer English language sessions for those who need them.

Travel for Teens. Instead of an overnight camp based in one place, Travel for Teens allows kids 13-18 to travel the world, holding trips in Europe, Latin America, and Asia. These trips range from 6 to 23 days. The variety of trips is large – some include volunteering at an animal rescue in Costa Rica, scuba-diving in Fiji, and photography in Venice.

Lingua Service Spanish Summer Camps. While Teen Spanish only offers programs for teens and families, Lingua Service Worldwide offers a variety of summer Spanish camps throughout Spain for children ranging in age from 5 to 17. They offer 12 different camps, each held at a different Spanish school throughout the country. Camps vary individually in what they offer; some provide home stay opportunities and free time while others have on-site accommodations and 24/7 supervision. There’s likely to be a perfect fit for any child interested in learning more about the Spanish culture and language.


Global Link China. Global Link China offers a unique cultural immersion trip for children aged 8 to 18. During the 3 week camp, children receive 45 hours of Chinese language lessons as well as basic written letters and are immersed in the Chinese culture with pre-planned activities and tours of many spots in Beijing and Shanghai.

Sports Camp Australia. Sports Camp Australia offers summer camps in over 14 different sports, including tennis, golf, and swimming. There are camps available for those as young as 6 and international campers are welcome. Overnight programs typically include 30+ hours of sport practice along with all meals and housing.

Village Camps Summer Riding Program. Village Camp offers a high-end equestrian camp in York, England. The camp is held at the esteemed Follifoot Riding Centre and is available to riders of all levels, with at least an hour being spent in the saddle each morning for a lesson. Afternoons are available for down-time and games with the horses.


Regardless of where you send your child, an international overnight camp is something they are unlikely to forget. The experience will bring them more confidence, valuable life skills, and fond memories. If you do not think your child is quite ready to travel internationally yet, check out these sleep away camps in your area as another alternative to international overnight camps.

Drawing and Painting Gardening Hiking

8 Spring Activities for Preschoolers

Need something new to do with your little ones as the weather warms up? Welcome spring together with these creative and sensory outdoor activities.

By Skyanne Fisher

After a long winter, preschoolers will perk up when you introduce them to new spring activities. Head outside in the sunshine, and celebrate the arrival of spring!

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Make Your Own Sidewalk Chalk

Sidewalk chalk was a childhood favorite of mine, and it seems to be a timeless pastime, as every child I know loves it. Instead of just grabbing a box of chalk at the local store, create a new family memory by making your own.

To create chalk: Cut a paper towel tube into 3- or 5-inch pieces, and use waxed paper to line the inside and cover one of the ends. (Hold the paper it in place with masking tape.) Mix 2 to 3 tablespoons of tempera paint, ¾ cup of plaster of Paris, and ½ cup of water. Pour the mixture inside the tubes and let sit for a few hours, until solidified. Peel off the waxed paper and cardboard tube, and you have your own homemade chalk for hours of decorating your sidewalk.

toddler finger paintingDabble in Finger Paints

I’ve yet to meet a child who doesn’t love finger painting, and rarely do I meet a child who doesn’t “accidentally” get a little paint in their mouth. Most finger paints are labeled “nontoxic,” but I still like to make my own paint because I know exactly what is in it. Plus, helping you make the paint can be a fun activity for a child.

To make finger paint: Use a ratio of 1 part flour to 2 parts water. For one child and a few colors, I typically start with ½ cup of flour and 1 cup of cold water. Combine the ingredients in a saucepan and heat it on the stove, stirring until it becomes a smooth mixture and the lumps are gone. Then remove the flour mixture from the heat and divide it into bowls, one for each color you’d like to make. Slowly add cold water until the paint is at the desired consistency, and stir in food coloring. Add a pinch of salt, which helps to stop the paint from spoiling, and you can store it in the fridge indefinitely.

Whip Up Some Homemade Bubble Mix

Bubbles are another springtime favorite. While it’s easy to run to the store to grab a bottle of bubbles, making your own is super easy. And witnessing a child’s excitement when they see the bubbles they’ve made themselves is far better than grabbing a bottle at the store. However, I do recommend picking up some bubble wands to get the most fun out of this activity.

To make bubbles: Combine 12 cups of water, 1 cup of dish soap, 1 cup of cornstarch, and 2 tablespoons of baking powder. You can also add 1 tablespoon of glycerin, but the recipe works fine without it. Combine all ingredients, taking care not to create bubbles as you stir. Let sit for 1 hour, then enjoy an afternoon of bubble fun!

OutdoorPlay-300x226Go on a Scavenger Hunt

Take a walk with your child and enjoy all that nature has to offer. Head through your neighborhood to the local park or, if you’re lucky enough to have access, walk along a creek bed. Encourage your child to explore and search for butterflies, salamanders, worms, frogs, birds, and other small animals. Ask them to count how many different types of flowers they see. Seeing nature “waking up” is the perfect introduction to spring.

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Fill Up a Spring-Themed Sensory Bin

Sensory bins are a great thing to have around throughout the year. Essentially they are plastic bins, boxes, or similar containers filled with objects of various sizes, shapes, and textures. They are perfect for toddlers and preschoolers who are fascinated simply by the way things feel, and they are a great way to introduce children to new things. Sensory bins are particularly helpful during rainy days when the kids can’t get outside to play.

To create a spring sensory bin: Fill a plastic bin about halfway with dirt, sand, or pebbles. Then add things like flowers from the yard, miniature flower pots, kid-safe indoor gardening tools, plastic bugs or worms, and any other fun additions that you find around the house.

Craft a Few Bird Feeders

Making bird feeders each spring was a favorite tradition of mine and something I love doing with my children. All you need is a toilet paper roll and some peanut butter, birdseed, and string.

To create a bird feeder: First, put the string through the center of the toilet paper roll and leave at least 6 inches of string on either side of the roll before tying the ends together in a knot. This is how you will hang the feeder in a tree. Next, cover the outside of the toilet paper roll with peanut butter and roll it in birdseed. Make sure to cover the entire surface. Head out to your yard, select a tree, and hang it up. It’s fun to choose a tree that’s visible from the house so you and your kids can watch as the birds come to eat.

Mix Up Some Spring Goo

“Goo” is another great sensory activity — especially since this fun substance acts like a liquid and a solid.

To create Spring Goo: Mix 1 part water with 2 parts cornstarch. Stir in flowers, glitter, or anything else you think might be a good addition. Goo can also be turned into a fun science experiment: It’s a solid when cupped in your hands or resting in a bowl, but it behaves like a liquid when you pour it from your hand.

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toddler in the gardenSpend Time in the Garden

Spring is planting season. Why not allow your child the chance to have his or her own kid-size garden? If you already have a garden, dedicate a small corner to your child. If not, choose a sunny spot and create a new garden bed together. Allow your child to choose the seeds, help plant them, and then tend the garden as one of their daily responsibilities. It’s an educational experience that also gives children an opportunity to connect with nature … while getting a little dirty!

Super Activities for Super Kids

10 Board Games for the Family

Board games for the family is a classic past time. They a perfect for bringing the family together during a game night or entertaining the children on a rainy day.

There’s no shortage of games out there but when playing with children, it can be difficult to decide on a game the whole family will enjoy. After all, the adults may enjoy a long game of Monopoly but your two-year-old won’t.

Below are 10 games (plus a bonus one at the bottom!) guaranteed to provide fun for the family. They are listed by age but consider this a guideline – chances are even the older kids will enjoy playing a game like Trouble and if your three-year-old has enough patience and concentration to play Jenga (or they at least enjoy stacking blocks), definitely give it a go.

Just a quick warning, however – be sure to supervise small children during these games as some of them do include small play pieces.

Ages 4 and under

Memory. Memory is a great first game for kids as it is basic but encourages important skills like memory and taking turns. Somehow the simple concept of finding matching cards can keep a child entertained for hours. While the Original Memory is great for everyone, almost every character or TV show has their own version of Memory, which offers children an extra incentive to play.

Connect 4. Connect 4 is yet another simple game that manages to keep young children entertained for hours. The concept, similar to tic-tac-toe, is to “connect” 4 dots of the same color in a row. The youngest children have a blast putting the dots in the slots while the older children are able to think strategically about the best place to play and keep the other team from winning.

Boggle Jr. The original Boggle is a fantastic game for older children, especially when teaching them to write and spell. However, the new Boggle Jr is probably one of the best games on the market for younger children. Boggle Junior aids in teaching children letters and basic words in a game that the whole family can enjoy. The kids won’t even realize that they’re learning.

Ages 4-6

Trouble. Trouble is yet another game that can be bought as the original game or featuring any number of characters, such as the Teenange Mutant Ninja Turtles. The concept is simple- take all of your game pieces around the board and back to your home spaces. However, the possibility of getting sent back to the beginning aids a level of intensity to the game. Math skills are encouraged to decide which piece to is the most appropriate to move at any given turn – either so you hit your home space or get to send someone else back to the start.

Candyland. Candyland is perhaps the go-to board game for young children. Who didn’t play this game growing up? I’ve never met a child who didn’t love playing Candyland. It helps children learn their colors but, most importantly, it teaches that just because you’re winning now that does not mean you will be in a few minutes.

Ages 6-8

Jenga. Who knew that stacking blocks could be so fun and competitive? Jenga tests your concentration, patience, and hand-eye coordination as players attempt to remove blocks, using only one hand, without sending the rest of the tower crumbling down.

Simon Says. A spin off the common playground game, the hand-held Simon Says game flashes colors in a specific pattern which the player is then asked to repeat back. The sequences get faster and more difficult as the game progresses, encouraging hand-eye coordination and memorization. The game has settings for use as a single-player or multi-player game.

Ages 8+

Scrabble. The traditional board game is great for teaching spelling and building vocabulary as players build words crossword puzzle style. Additionally, it encourages strategic thinking to plan each move based on the points value of the letters and what made stop an opponent from scoring.

Clue. Clue encourages critical thinking and memory as players attempt to solve the mystery of who murdered the host through asking a variety of questions. Players use deductive reasoning to figure out where the murder took place and which weapon was used.

Telestration. Telestration is a combination of Pictionary and the old “telephone” game. Each player is given a whiteboard and a word to draw. The boards are passed around the room where each person guesses what the original word was and adds to the drawing before finally learning what the original word was. The results can be hilarious as the final drawing is often completely unrelated to the original word.

Chess. Chess is incredibly challenging game that helps older children think strategically. It’s so popular that there are even camps dedicated to doing nothing other than strengthening your child’s chess skills. Here’s a few in the Bay Area:

The Chess Club in San Jose, CA
Academic Chess in San Francisco, CA
Chess Wizards in Menlo Park, CA
Yes for Chess in Stanford, CA
Firecracker Math in Berkeley, CA
Success Chess in Fremont, CA

Time-Saving Tips for Busy Moms

How to Find the Perfect Nanny

Finding the perfect nanny for your family can be a difficult task. You want someone whom you can trust with your child that has similar beliefs and lifestyle, someone that is capable of taking care of your child but also at keeping them entertaining and helping them learn. Depending on your intentions, a nanny can also become like another member of the family. Children are highly influenced by those they spend a large amount of time with and your nanny will definitely fall into this category.

However, though some effort is required, finding a nanny does not need to be difficult, especially in the San Francisco Bay area. Hiring a nanny in San Francisco is a very common thing and therefore there are qualified nannies abound.

Below is a general guideline on how to find the perfect nanny.

Where to Find A Nanny

There are 3 ways to find a nanny – online, through an agency, or via recommendations.

There are several sites dedicated to connecting families with the perfect nanny, such as UrbanSitter and SitterCity. Both sites allow both families and nannies to create a profile about themselves, their lifestyle, and what they are looking for. Families are able to post a specific job for their family detailing the position and expectations and are also able to search through the available nannies in the area to reach out directly.

The upside to such sites is that there is often a wide range of nannies to choose from, allowing you to connect with multiple people. Many of these sites also offer a section for nannies to post references and offer a free background check. Additionally, previous employers are able to leave feedback based on their experience with the nanny.

The next option is city-based nanny agencies. Utilizing agencies allows you to do less of the work – they often vet the nannies and work hard to make a match for you. The downside, of course, is that you have to pay an agency fee.

The final option is to reach out to friends and family for suggestions. Whether they are able to recommend a past babysitter or have a friend looking for work, this can be a great starting point. Nannies looking for work often reach out to “mommy groups” as well.

Interviewing Applicants

At this point, hopefully you’ve found a few potential nannies. I’ve always found it important to set up interviews with several people as occasionally people won’t show up or will find another job. Plus, there’s always the chance that the person you anticipate to be your Dream Nanny won’t be so great after all.

Interviews can be held in your home or somewhere public, like a local park. If only interviewing one or two potential nannies, I recommend holding the interview in your home and introducing the children as how someone interacts with your child the first time is a big indicator of how they will be as a nanny.

Prior to the interview, create a list of exactly what you’re looking for in a nanny. Divide the list into “non-negotiables” and “strongly desired”. Include things like CPR/first aid certification, non-smoking, drivers license, experience, availability and flexibility on the list. Remember that the ideal nanny may have most but not all of these qualities so it’s important to decide right away what is a deal-breaker and what you can potentially work around.

Create a list of questions around your requirements as well as other important questions like –

Why do you want to be a nanny?
What is your previous experience (in detail)?
What would you do in X situation?
How do you handle punishment?
Do you foresee any obstacles (family obligations, etc) that may prevent you from arriving at work?
Do you foresee any schedule changes?
When are you NOT available?
Also remember to inquire about driving record and insurance if the nanny will be required to drive the children around.

When interviewing, there are a few red flags to look out for – they reschedule the appointment several times, acts disinterested when introduced to the children, provides vague answers, etc.

However, perhaps the most important part of the interview is introducing the potential nanny to the children. If you are interviewing several nannies and plan to do several rounds of interviews, this can be saved until the last interview so that the children do not become confused but if you are interviewing only one or two nannies, bring the children in right away.

After all, they will be the ones spending all of their time with the new nanny and it’s important for both you and the nanny to decide whether or not your children will be the right fit.

Making the Decision

Prior to making the final decision, request and call at least 3 references. Be wary of references that are overly positive – too often people provide fake references in the form of relatives.

Finally, after references are checked there are a few more things to consider:

How did the child(ren) react? Does the nanny fit into your lifestyle? For example, if you live a very active lifestyle and eat all organic, it’s probably best to not hire a nanny who prefers to cook boxed meals and let the children watch TV all day.

At this point, it’s best to have one nanny that you believe would be the absolute perfect fit but also hopefully one or two back-ups, in case the first doesn’t work out.

The final step is to call the potential nanny and let them know you would like them to be take care of your children. Make an offer regarding pay but be open to a little negotiation -after all, isn’t it worth a few extra bucks to know your child is in good hands? Be super-clear on what the expectations are so there’s no confusion later.

Hopefully at this point you’ve found the perfect nanny and can look forward to leaving your child in good hands while you work.