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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.

AlmunecarExcursions

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.

horse-back-riding-in-england

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.

Categories
Family

Are Smartphones Disconnecting Your Family?






ActivityHero providers are experts at getting kids to go (temporarily) off the grid. Here 6 of their tips to help your family welcome more tech-free time.

By Rachel Stamper

Tech is typically banned at school and during after school activities — and for good reason: Smartphones and tablets distract kids from instructional time. At bedtime, exposure to blue light from smartphones, tablets, computers, and the TV can actually make it tougher for kids and adults to fall asleep because the light they emit prevents the release of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep. And with 20 digital devices in the average home, according to a recent Yahoo! poll, there are plenty of screens competing for your family’s attention. Left unchecked, all that screen time could affect your relationship with your children, the quantity and quality of sleep your family gets, and how engaged your kids are during the school day and at activities.

To get some help in corralling the tech, we reached out to a few ActivityHero providers who are experts on powering down kids’ smartphone usage — at least temporarily. Here, we offer their suggestions, along with our own research, to help you figure out the best times and ways to use a little less data each day.

1. Get an Old-School Alarm Clock

“Today too many people use their phones as alarms. That means it’s super-tempting to check your social media or favorite news sites right before you go to sleep,” says Ed Caballero, Executive Director of Camp Edmo, which offers high-quality enrichment programs in science, technology, reading, engineering, arts, and math. His suggestion: Leave your phone in another room to recharge at night, and use a regular alarm clock to rise in the morning. “It’s also a great to give your body a break from being close to that radiation for 6 to 10 hours a day,” he adds. A standard clock with a battery backup is just as reliable as a cell phone alarm.

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2. Schedule Some Official “Silent Times”

Caballero also says, “You might have a hard time keeping the cell phone out of your child’s hand at all times. However, you can establish Silent Times like dinner, family gatherings, etc., when the phone is set to silent. When you don’t have the angst of wondering if your phone vibrated, pinged, or rang, you can actually be more present and conversational. By turning your phones to silent, you can focus on the people you’re with and check messages at socially appropriate times — when you’re alone later.” Whether it’s dinner at home, at a restaurant, or at a special event, if everyone powers down at the same time, there’s a sense of fairness. (Yes, that means us adults, too!)

3. Reframe the Conversation

Blake Longfellow, Co-owner and Director of UCamps, which provide fun, educational, arts, leadership, and outdoor enrichment programs, allows only counselors, not kids, to have cell phones. “When I promote the summer programs, kids always ask can they have their phones,” he says. “I reframe the conversation to remind them if they don’t have their cell phones, their parents can’t tell them what to do.” Kids can make their own choices, choose their own classes, decide who they “hang out” with, and get a break from “parental communication.” Rather than focusing on what you might miss by unplugging, talk about how you’ll be able to positively experience the world without a digital distraction.

4. Don’t Break Electronics Bans

Longfellow adds, “We have a no-phone policy for campers and it’s the parents that complain — 90 percent of the kids are okay with it. Some parents will try and sneak in a phone, but having a phone can foster homesickness. In previous years, 10 or 11 kids left camp each summer due to homesickness, but since we set a phone ban, no kids have asked to leave. Kids are more present and enjoy the time without a phone.” Promise yourself now that you won’t fight phone bans at school or activities, no matter how inconvenient it may seem at first. When you set a good example, says Longfellow, “This teaches kids to respect your phone rules too.”

5. Think About Your Own Habits

Clinical psychologist Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair, author of The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age, says that it’s not just parents who are upset about tech interruptions; it’s kids who hurt, too. “We as parents have to be much more mindful about … interacting with technology when our children need us …. Children of all ages — 2, 15, 18, 22 — used the same phrases to talk about how hard it is for them to get their parents’ attention when they need it: sad, angry, mad, frustrated.” By putting down your digital device, you model this habit for your kids. This means no checking your phone at mealtime, while in the car, or during family time. It may be a challenge at first, but imagine what a relief it will be to have some off-the-grid moments when no one can steal your serenity with a stressed-out email or text.

6. Go “Old School” in the Evenings

The blue light of devices is particularly bad in the two to three hours before bedtime. To help your kids get the right quantity and quality of sleep, consider reading paper books or playing board games in the evening rather than using eBooks or apps before bed. A recent study by Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston showed that screen activity before bed makes it harder to fall asleep. Dr. Anne-Marie Chang says, “The best recommendation (although not the most popular) would be to avoid use of light-emitting screens before bedtime.” Plus, board games improve executive function (the brain’s control of cognitive processes such as memory, reasoning, and problem-solving) and let you bond and engage with your kids. Just be sure to silence your phones first!

Give Tech-Loving Kids Another Option

If your child simply loves technology, take a look at the computer programming and coding classes available on ActivityHero! This is a great way to support your kids’ interest in electronics in a way that allows them to learn, socialize, and possibly prepare for a future career.

Categories
Adventure/Outdoors Camps Overnight/Travel Sleep away camps Uncategorized Wilderness

10 Media Choices for Kids Going to Sleepaway Camp






These books, movies, and TV shows offer a glimpse into the magical world of overnight camps — and can help ease kids’ minds before packing their bags.

By the Kids’ Media Experts at SmartFeedchild sitting at a campfire, happily

Overnight camp can be an exciting adventure; however, going for the first time can cause some jitters for parents and kids alike. Soothe the nerves of your camper by sharing these interesting camp experiences — some completely silly, some true to life. In the media choices below, we explore nontraditional camps like spy camp and roller derby camp, as well as the more common sleepaway camp in the woods. Share them with your soon-to-be campers and see their excitement grow!

Books for Kids Going to Overnight Camp

rollergirlRoller Girl
Ages 8+
This terrific graphic novel tells the story of a young teen learning to work hard and become a good teammate at roller derby camp one summer. Her ideas of friendship are tested outside of camp, but she comes through strong and inspired to do her best.

 

spy-camp-bookSpy Camp
Ages 8+
This sequel to Spy School reports on spy summer camp. A thrilling adventure awaits the main character as he heads to camp for high-stakes survival training camp, but encounters much more. Please note that while there is violence in this book, it is cartoon violence.

 

lumberjanesLumberjanes, Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy
Ages 10+
Supernatural creatures run the show in the wacky summer camp portrayed in this comic book series. Five girlfriends band together and have a great time dealing with strange critters and a tough camp counselor. Ultimately, they empower each other to have a summer full of adventure.

 

blessBless the Beasts & Children
Ages 13+
This classic novel tells the difficult but poignant story of boys sent away to camp because of challenging home lives. Set in the West, it shares how the boys unite and defy authority to do what is right. Beautifully written, this story will be best for enthusiastic teen readers.

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Movies for Kids Going to Overnight Camp

parent_trapThe Parent Trap (1961)
Ages 5+
Whether you prefer the 1961 original or the remake, the story is funny and engaging. Twins are separated by their parent’s divorce and raised as singletons. They rediscover each other at summer camp, scheme to reunite their warring parents, and chaos ensues. Quaint and old-fashioned, the actors in the original will charm you.

girls_rockGirls Rock!
Ages 7+
Girl power is the message in this documentary set at the Rock and Roll Camp for Girls in Portland, Oregon. Several girls from differing backgrounds are featured as they learn to play an instrument and build confidence through their performances. These girls share their feelings and their creativity. It’s an empowering movie, at times infuriating and sad, but with a powerhouse of a message.

moonrise_kingdomMoonrise Kingdom
Ages 13+
This movie shows a stylized world like no other. It’s a quirky movie with laughter, sadness, and hilarity. The pair of runaway tweens are decent and devoted. Not your usual camp experience, but entertaining and lovely.

 

campCamp
Ages 15+
Great love for the theater supersedes any differences that this group of campers discovers about each other. Every two weeks, campers put on a Broadway show. Personalities are strong but, always, the show must go on! Be aware that there is strong language and situations in this PG-13 rated movie.

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TV Shows for Kids Going to Overnight Camp

bunkdBunk’d
Ages 5+
A spin-off from the popular Disney series Jessie, this fictitious camp experience is full of pranks, silliness, and friends.

 

camp_lakebottomCamp Lakebottom
Ages 7+
Completely imaginary, this camp is run by monsters, with very few rules and regulations for the campers. Bathroom humor is popular and frequent. Obviously, this is not what overnight camp will be like, but it’s funny to imagine.

Categories
Computers Digital Media Gaming Overnight/Travel Programming Tutoring

Smart Sites That Boost Kids’ Brainpower






Worried about the time your children spend online? Steer them toward these websites, which can help them explore new interests and expand their knowledge.

By Anita Sharma

girl-at-computer
Kids today are spending more and more time on their computers, TVs, tablets, and smartphones. That’s not exactly news to parents, who have spent years agonizing over how much screen time is okay. What is news? The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently changed their policy on screen time. Though they once deemed two hours to be the recommended upper limit for older kids (and zero hours as ideal for children age 2 or younger), their approach today is more “nuanced.” According to a recent Forbes.com article by Jordan Shapiro, the AAP’s new message, at least in part, is that quality is more important than quantity. One of their new guidelines, in fact, reads: “Prioritize how your child spends his time rather than just setting a timer.” You can almost hear parents everywhere giving a collective sigh of relief.

Of course, this doesn’t give us carte blanche to sit glued to a screen all day (read Shapiro’s complete article for more detailed recommendations). What it does mean? We can feel better about the time our kids do spend on this new media if we’re more selective about what they view. To that end, ActivityHero offers this peek at some quality websites that children can use to expand their world, explore potential career paths, and elevate their education.

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Sites That Help Kids Excel in School

There are so many websites that can help children with their education. Whether your child wants to get ahead, review previous subject matter, or solidify concepts they’re learning in school, Khan Academy is a great place to start — and it’s completely free. Information is conveyed through videos, which are developed and written by experienced educators. These videos — many of which are still made by the company’s founder Sal Khan — are generally 3 to 15 minutes long and break down each topic into smaller lessons, which helps students understand one concept at a time without feeling overwhelmed. Khan Academy also provides other visual aides such as pictures, maps, and diagrams to help boost students’ understanding. This site focuses mainly on math for students in kindergarten through 8th grade. However, it also offers some content in other popular subjects such as computer science, history, music, and science.

Sites for One-on-One Help

When school class sizes are usually 20 or more kids per teacher, individualized instruction from a private tutor might give your child the extra help they need. Wyzant helps families find a tutor for math, English, or any other subject. Tutors are local or can meet online. The tutors set their own price, and Wyzant says the first session is free if you don’t like it.

Other tutoring websites specialize in only one subject. An example of this is PandaTree, which offers personalized tutoring in foreign languages via video chat sessions. The tutors, many of whom are foreign language instructors or professional educators, personalize each session to make sure that students have fun while they learn. Parents can choose the session duration (25 or 50 minutes), as well as which tutor they believe is best for their child. Students may change tutors at any time; in fact, it’s encouraged. According to the website, “Getting comfortable having conversations with lots of different people is great preparation for real life.” Each session costs $25 to $45, but PandaTree also offers package deals, which allow parents to purchase 3 to 40 sessions at once.

Sites That Teach Kids to Code

According to Business Insider, more people on our planet have a mobile phone than electricity, safe drinking water, and bank accounts. Learning to code can give your kids an edge in this high-tech world, since coders are in demand everywhere and will continue to be in the future.

To help them get started, the website Tynker offers introductory computer science courses for students who are 7 to 14 years of age. Here, students learn how to code through video games that they play on the site. (One scavenger hunt features characters from the Monster High series.) Gamers select blocks with actions on them such as “walk” or “mind control” to dictate what a character should do during each round. In order to complete a level, gamers have to use the correct amount of each block in the correct order. The Parent Dashboard gives you a window into what your child has learned, as well as the projects they have completed, and kids have lifelong access to each course that’s purchased. Tynker offers several pay plans: the Yearly Plan, the Quarterly Plan, and a Family Plan for households with two or more kids. Costs range from $6 to $9 per month.

Another great coding website is Youth Digital, which offers online courses in video game and app design, as well as some unique subjects, such as 3D animation and fashion design. Students can online-chat with instructors to ask questions and make sure they understand the material. All of the instructors have teaching experience and are passionate about working with students. Kids can proceed at their own pace since they are given a full year to complete their chosen course. These courses are designed for children 8 to 14 years of age and range from $74 to $250 each.

kid and grandpa checking out websites

Sites That Help Kids Explore the World

Plenty of websites today help self-motivated children follow their passions and explore more of the world around them. One example is Jam, which offers courses in careers that kids might want to pursue. Subjects reach beyond traditional school curriculum to include subjects such as cooking, singing, illustrating, inventing, and animating. Students learn from professionals who are up-and-coming in their field, and they can interact with other kids online, complementing (and learning from) each other. A mentor team ensures that students are on track and provides regular feedback on their work. A year of access to 20 “quests” costs $99.

Our global economy also means that fluency in more than one language can open doors to more career opportunities for your child. Conjuguemos is a website that offers free instruction in French, German, Italian, Korean, Latin, Portuguese, and Spanish. Created by textbook publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, this site offers printable worksheets on verbs, vocabulary, and grammar, as well as games and graded practice sessions to evaluate their progress. Users can test listening comprehension by playing videos and writing out the words that they hear. Their efforts are graded right away, providing the student with instant feedback on what they need to review. Students can also track their overall progress by making an account on the site.

Another site that can prepare kids for life beyond their own borders is Kids World Travel Guide, which provides information about other locations and cultures and can help families prepare for upcoming trips. This site goes beyond listing facts and figures, helping kids explore other countries’ cultures through descriptions and photos of local wildlife, food, holidays, and more. The team that created this site includes young writers and travelers, and it’s headed up by travel-savvy adults who have lived on multiple continents. Kids World Travel Guide is based in Cape Town/South Africa, but their menu of 15 countries includes familiar locations like Germany and Spain, as well as some surprises like Qatar and Mauritius. You’ll also find tabs for trivia and quizzes, fun facts, travel tips, and games, including ones to play when traveling in a car.

Last, everyone in your family (you, too!) should take a few minutes to peruse the offerings on Masterclass, a website where people of any age can learn from celebrities who are tops in their field. For example, students can take a singing class from Christina Aguilera or a writing class from James Patterson. Each $90 course includes video content from the celebrity instructor, along with a workbook, interactive assignments, and community activities. Enrollment provides students with lifetime access to the course materials, so students can proceed at their own pace; however, the workbook does provide a recommended pace for completion, which can help students motivated and on track.

Editor’s note: All prices and information are accurate as of August 2016. Please check the actual websites for current pricing and details.

Take Kids’ Interests to the Next (Local) Level!

The web is a great place to start when trying to find some new hobbies, interests, and activities for your kids. Once they’ve hooked into a new subject matter or discovered a hidden talent, it’s time to search ActivityHero for in-person instruction provided by talented educators and program directors who live and work right in your own “backyard.”

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Categories
Asia

Traveling to Japan With Kids






Over spring break last year I took my nine-year-old daughter, along with my friend and her daughter, to Japan. This wasn’t the easiest decision; it’s a fourteen hour flight and a lot of moving around the country! My friend had lived in Japan before and knew some great spots, but I was constantly learning how to make the experience great for us and the kids, and it turned to be a trip that my daughter and I will never forget.

Kids Love Trains

Trains: When you have kids with you, trains are your friend. We took them everywhere. They’re in almost every town across the country, and if you can’t find one, a tram or boat will be in its place. A ride costs a reasonable $5-$10. In one town we took a train to a vertical tram (see picture), and at the top a bus was waiting to take us into the town of Koyasan. The kids loved this unique leg of our trip.

Drink Jelly

English: Basic English is widely spoken in Japan, so you don’t need to know any Japanese to get around. We found people to be extremely friendly; almost everyone I spoke with knew some English and went out of their way to be helpful when we were looking for good food or a restroom. A lot of signs were in English and Japanese as well.

 Squatting Toilets

Squatting Toilets: My daughter absolutely refused to use these. Luckily, the hotels had western style toilets, as did many department stores and some public facilities. This was occasionally a challenge to solve, but not an impossible one.

 Kids & Wildlife

Wildlife: In the town of Nara, Japanese Buddhists have spent hundreds of years taming the local deer, so that today you can walk up and scratch them like a dog. They’ll even follow you around if they think you have food. You’ll see local children everywhere feeding them biscuits.

Kid Loves Ramen

Food: If your child doesn’t like sushi, don’t panic; they’ll probably be okay with ramen. You can get this delicious broth-and-noodle dish pretty much everywhere; it typically costs around $8.

 Geisha Kid

Geisha: At the very end of our visit to Japan we found a shop that specialized in dressing up kids and adults as authentic Geishas. This process took four hours for my daughter and her friend, but they absolutely loved every second and the results were magical.