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After-School Activities Parenting Resources Super Activities for Super Kids

What Are the Best Summer Camps for Your Child’s Personality?

Any parent can tell you that all kids are truly one-of-a-kind. So how does a parent go about picking the right summer camps for their unique child?

Not all little girls want to be ballerinas at dance camp, and all boys are not fit to be a star at sports camp. Not only do different activities help keep kids active and healthy; they also help build self-confidence, creativity, and are a great form of stress relief.

Explore All Summer Camps >>

Step 1: Ask for their input

Perhaps your daughter has caught the fever for archery after seeing Katniss and Princess Merida in action, or the last season of The Voice has your son belting out tunes that beg for voice lessons. While parents have the final say in what activities kids will pursue, keep in mind that all kids should be allowed to have their own personal goals and preferences.

Step 2: Assess their personality

Another way to help choose summer camps for your kids is to take cues from their personality traits. For instance, a child who longs to explore might not find foreign language camps as exciting as an outdoor adventure camp. Here’s a few recommendations on how to find the perfect summer camps for your child:

How to find a summer camp

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Encourage your kids to explore and check out all of the different camps and classes in your area on ActivityHero!

Written by Sarah Antrim

Categories
Super Activities for Super Kids

Camp Director Spotlight: Wanderers Camp

Wanderers Camp in the San Fransisco Bay Area offers 5-7 day sleep-away camps, day camps, and backpacking trips, for kids grades 2-8. While kids at other SF Bay area camps are stuck in one place, these campers spend their days touching tide pool starfish, finding huckleberries, spotting tule elk, playing among the redwoods, rock climbing on granite, and camping and backpacking in remote wilderness areas throughout Northern California. We interviewed founder Kurt Gantert about the camp’s beginnings and missions.

Tell us a little about yourself and how you started the camp.

I grew up backpacking, canoeing, skiing, etc. in upstate New York.  My parents were very outdoorsy and loved to take me and my brother out on long trips into the wilderness of the Adirondacks in northern New York.

I remember having a natural affinity for the outdoors, but those first backpacking and canoe trips were pretty hard.  A big, heavy pack on my back, long miles of hiking, the bugs, rain, etc.  However, the positives of those experiences far outweighed the negatives.

I felt so proud of hiking far and pushing myself to get to the top of a peak, or paddle across a huge lake.  The food tasted better out in the wilderness, the smells of the forest were amazing, learning how to survive outdoors and being self-sufficient, the feeling of freedom, seeing wildlife up-close, learning about the natural history of the areas we camped in, and the calm and serenity of nature were some of the things I became aware of being in the wilderness on those trips.  I could go on, but these experiences early in my life were very formative.

During my late teens and early twenties, I worked at a summer camp called Pathfinder in Algonquin Park, Ontario, Canada.  It is a boys canoe tripping camp that will be 100 years old this year.

I worked as a lifeguard and swim instructor at first and eventually graduated to become a canoe trip leader there.  As a canoe trip leader, I led 3-15 day canoe trips for boys ages 7-15 into the wilderness of Canada.

These trips were very challenging, but fun and life-changing in many ways for both the staff and the campers.  I saw the campers gain confidence, physical strength, learn teamwork and leadership skills, and much more.  The experience working at Pathfinder made me want to pursue a career in the outdoors.  After seeing how transformative these trips were for the boys, I was sold on doing this for a living.

After 10+ years experience working as a backpacking guide, ski instructor, natural history educator and program director for numerous outdoor education and adventure travel companies, I felt like I was ready to start my own camp.  It was a dream I’d had since working at Pathfinder, and I felt like I was finally ready to go for it.  I was settled down and married with 2 kids in San Francisco.  I was enjoying living in SF, but was realizing that my family I weren’t spending a lot of time in the outdoors because our lives were so busy with work, school and social events.

I read the book “Last Child in the Woods” by Richard Louv and it was the final inspiration for me to start the camp.  Louv’s book was about how modern children weren’t spending as much time in nature as the previous generation and it was having some serious negative effects on their mental and physical well-being.  The book had given me a focus for my camp: re-connecting children to nature!

Are there any special lessons or experiences you are trying to provide during the camp?

Wanderers is focused on connecting children to nature by:

  • Hiking and exploring spectacular places.  At Wanderers, we take the kids to all the places my staff and I love to go.  We go to spectacular waterfalls, fun creeks, beaches, high alpine lakes, and mountain peaks in some of our favorite national and state parks in Northern California.  I get inspired by these places, and I think kids do too.
  • Having fun in the outdoors.  At Wanderers, fun is a very important ingredient to connecting to nature. Fun = games we play, creek exploration, beach time, tidepooling, building forts, nature art, skits, night hikes, s’mores, campfires, rock climbing, etc.
  • Challenge.  I like to challenge the campers because nature is not something that is just pretty to look at, but also rugged and challenging.  To understand and connect to nature, I think kids need to work hard and accomplish something.  Examples of challenge are rock climbing, long hikes, peak ascents, group initiatives, etc.
  • Natural History Education.  I like to teach the kids at least some aspects of the natural history of all the areas we travel to.  It gives them more of a “sense of place” or an understanding of the uniqueness of the area they are in.  Some examples of the natural history lessons we cover are:  redwood ecology in Armstrong Redwoods, geology of Yosemite Valley, what is a watershed? in the Marin Watershed district, natural history of Tule Elk in Pt. Reyes National Seashore.

There’s plenty more lessons and experiences Wanderers provides, but these are some of the most important.

What surprises/delights the kids (or parents) most about your camp? What sets your class/camp apart from the rest?

I think what surprises most kids about their Wanderers experience is that they generally come away from it with a love of spending time outdoors with a group.

Many children going into camp are a little hesitant about camping, long hikes, bugs, being away from mom, etc….however, by the end of the week, I’d say 99% of the kids come away from it being surprised at how much they enjoy being outdoors in nature.

I think what sets Wanderers apart from many other camps is that we are a completely mobile camp.  This gives us the flexibility to go to almost anywhere we want and gives the kids a chance to experience some of the most spectacular places in northern California.

At most other camps, kids are tied to a building or a campus….which I think limits the experience, especially if it’s supposed to be about nature immersion.

We are also unique in that our groups rarely exceed 15 kids.  This also allows us to have a great staff to camper ratio (usually about 1 to 3) which makes it a safer experience than most camps as well. This small group experience also allows the kids more of a chance to bond with each other and have a more memorable group experience.

We also hire very qualified outdoor leaders, which, I think sets us apart as well.  Our leaders must be 21 yrs +, have a clean driving record and background, good experience leading groups in the outdoors, a Wilderness First Aid and CPR certification and love working with kids.

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Wanderers Camp in SF Bay Area is now taking registrations for summer trips. For more info and their current schedule, check out Wanderers Camp on ActivityHero.

Written by Sarah Antrim

Categories
After-School Activities Sports Super Activities for Super Kids

5 Tips for Getting Your Children Excited About Kids Sports

Kids excited about sports baseball cookies
Photo by Flickr user VensPaperie

These days, it can be pretty tough to get kids to do something as simple and engaging as playing kids sport.

Though it seems slightly crazy, throwing a ball around or running around with friends will often take second place to video games, TV, cell phones, and the internet.

Many parents despair at the time their kids spend in front of a screen when they themselves spent their childhoods playing outside with nothing but nature and friends for amusement (and maybe a ball and some roller-skates if they were lucky). And the frightening statistics about obesity levels don’t help.

Getting kids excited about sports so they voluntarily switch off the TV can be tough, but it’s a challenge we all need to face up to. The National Center for Health Statistics has found that 30 percent of American adults are already obese (some 60 million people) and no one wants that for their child.

The effect of exercise on overall health is a pretty compelling case for getting your children into kids sports. And getting your kids excited about sports now is an excellent groundwork for a healthy and happy future. But it’s not always easy going.

Here are 5 tips to get reluctant kids away from their LCD screens and excited about kids sports.

1. Make it Fun

Kids excited about sports boy playing tennis
Photo by Flickr user KrissZPhotography

Both kids and adults will respond far less positively to any activity that feels like a chore, so making exercise fun is a great way to get kids excited about it.

Classes like Zumba, which incorporates dance moves into exercise, are ideal for making the experience one they will want to repeat, as well as developing a sense of rhythm and physical confidence.

2. Join in Too

Kids excited about sports family basketball
Photo by Flickr user xcode

This doesn’t mean that you need to start stepping in for your kid at sports games and classes, criticizing them when they don’t kick high enough, or shouting at them from the sidelines!

Instead, take a healthy interest in the sports your child is interested in – play tennis with them to help work on eye to hand coordination or join a combined kids and adults softball team. Play together for some healthy bonding time, like a family basketball game, once a week.

The exercise will be good for everyone and it’s one of the few times you can bond without other distractions.

3. Let Your Child Decide

Kids excited about sports horseback riding
Photo by Flickr user micmol

You may love horseback riding, but does he?

There’s probably nothing less motivating for a kid – particularly those of a certain age – than being told that they have to do a certain sport (or a certain anything).

Whether it’s because it’s a sport you wished you had excelled at as a child, or one you think they have talent for, forcing kids to do something they clearly don’t want to do is rarely constructive.

That’s not to say: let off the hook. Make it clear that some sort of sport is compulsory, but let them choose the one that is right for them.

4. Set an Example

Kids excited about sports join in
Photo by Flickr user CaptQuirk

You may run in to problems with getting your kids to exercise if you never do any yourself.

Why should they get up off the couch if you never do?

The best way to lead is from the front, so start setting your own exercise goals. Share your achievements and the positive effects sports and exercise have on your life with the rest of your family.

5. Encourage Them

Kids excited about sports encourage them
Photo by Flickr user PanARMENIAN_Photo

Although you don’t have to be a hard-as-nails soccer mom or dad, pushing your child to be better than everyone else, a measure of encouragement goes a long way when it comes to getting kids into sports.

Help them set their own goals, whether it’s being good enough to join a team, or learning a new skill. Willingly shuttle them around to practices and matches.

A positive attitude to your kid’s interest in sport will make them want to take it further.

Guest blogger Amy Sawyer writes for Go Mammoth sports leagues.

Categories
After-School Activities Events Sports Super Activities for Super Kids

San Francisco Camps to Keep Your Kids Active Over the Winter Holidays

Are the kids looking for something fun to do during the holiday break over Christmas and New Years? Check out some of these fun winter camps for kids in the San Francisco area!

Cooking ‘Round the World Winter Camp, Oakland & Alameda.
Kids discover America’s deliciously different regions by cooking & eating! Campers go home with a binder of recipes, a new apron & perhaps a yearning for travel!

 

 

 

Spring Down Equestrian Center, Portola Valley.  Horseback Riding during the holidays! They have two, one week sessions of camp scheduled during the holiday break. Campers will learn everything about horses from the hoof up: safety,  grooming & tacking up, riding, how horses think, taking care of horses and much, much more.

 

 

 

Spartan’s Sports Camp, Mountain View. Basketball players in 5th-8th Grade get to learn valuable skills from Mountain View High School coaches and alumni in this half-day camp. Shooting, ball-handling, and defense will be among some of the skills covered in a high-energy, fast-paced environment. This is a great opportunity to tune-up skills prior to the winter youth basketball leagues.

All Star Baseball, Santa Clara. Great for beginning and intermediate players. These camps emphasize individual skills with basic fundamentals, team play, and overall fitness while experiencing the joy of the game.

If these camps aren’t near you, search for the latest schedules on ActivityHero using our date search.

Do you know of a great camp that is not listed here? Leave a comment!

Categories
Contests Events Sports Super Activities for Super Kids

ProCamps Giveaway Winner Review

Last month we ran a contest to win a father and son weekend camp sponsored by ProCamps with NBA star Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors and his father, former NBA star Dell Curry. The weekend-long camp held in San Francisco gave attendees the chance to meet the stars and learn first-hand some basketball drills and how to work together as a team. Our winners, Dinesh Chandrasekhar and son Rishi, kindly offered their testimony about their experience with the camp.

What did you learn about your dad/son that you might not have known before?

Rishi: I never knew that he shoots so bad.
Dinesh: I didn’t know that he had energy to play basketball and workout for 4 hours straight!
If you were in the NBA, would you want your dad/son on your team?
Rishi: Probably because he is good at passing the ball.
Dinesh: Absolutely. He has the finest moves in the game. (Proud dad!)
What did Dell & Stephen teach you that you didn’t already know?
Rishi: They taught me to dribble around my body.
Dinesh: That I could actually be a good coach for him even though I don’t really play the game well.
If you could choose one word to describe your dad/son what would it be?
Rishi: Quick. He gets the ball around real quick.
Dinesh: Nimble. He is extremely fast and agile on the court.
How often do you play basketball together?
Rishi: Almost every day.
Dinesh: Wish it was every day but I try.
How did this camp change your view of the game?
Rishi: I like the game even more.
Dinesh: I can see how it can make my son more confident and strong.
How has this camp changed your relationship?
Rishi: Made it more fun.
Dinesh: I have more respect for him at the game after seeing what he could do in a totally new team. Our team was being thrashed by the other team for an entire ten minutes. At the start of the third quarter, Rishi goes in to play and his game uplifted our entire team. He scored two crucial points for us. Even though we lost as a team, I was still proud of him for playing his heart out there.
Thank you to Dinesh & Rishi for sharing their experience, and a HUGE thank you to ProCamps for sponsoring this incredible giveaway!
Categories
Super Activities for Super Kids

Budgeting for Extracurriculars: What’s the Right Amount to Spend?

Kids participate in summer camps and after school programs year round. While family schedules certainly vary by region, one thing seems to be true throughout – kids are busier than ever before, and in turn pocketbooks are being stretched further and further. Between camp, swim lessons, sports team tryouts, art, music and field trips – the cost of extracurricular activities can really add up quickly. It is important to plan out a reasonable budget to spend on these enriching events that will deepen your child’s passions and sense of self but don’t necessarily need to deepen debt.

What You Should Spend

Having a “what you should do…” category is somewhat unfair and misleading, as the answer will vary greatly from family to family.  The true answer comes from not what amount you SHOULD spend, but rather what amount you can and want to spend.  Extracurricular activities should never send you into financial peril – though it is important to provide your child with their own interests and identity whenever you are able to.

The average American family tends to spend on average $200 per month, per child. Obviously if you have only one child, the cost will be much easier to handle than if you have a brood of five. Again, just do what you are able, and provide a healthy, happy home for the rest of the time!

image from hometestingblog.testcountry.com

Average Costs

Depending upon the activity your child is involved in, your costs will vary greatly.  Below are some examples of what you can expect to spend, though again this varies by region and family commitment level.

Dance

A little girl with dreams of becoming a ballerina can expect to set back her parents’ 2nd honeymoon fund approximately $60-150 per month in tuition costs. This number is dependent upon the number of classes taken each week.

  • Most recreation programs will charge around $60-80 for a once-per-week basic class in ballet, tap, jazz or hip hop.
  • Performing & Competition Dance – this is where things get a bit more expensive. A dance recital usually costs around $75 per costume, which may or may not include dance shoes, tights, etc. If your child plans on hitting an elite level, your monthly tuition cost will be much higher as many more classes will be required. Finally, competition teams tend to average around $400 per competition.

Sports

These can be one of the most expensive extracurricular activities around and it doesn’t really seem to matter which sport it is.

  • Softball can average $15 per child, not including uniform, bat, glove, cleats and more.
  • Youth football’s going rate is approximately $400 per child.
  • Soccer, basketball and tennis are also within the $400 range
  • Sports clubs and competitive leagues carry additional costs – especially for travel

If your child(ren) plan to participate in sports – it’s fair to say that $9,000 will cover three kids in the family playing three different sports.

Martial Arts

  • Youth classes at a community center average around $30-60 per month
  • Elite instructors typically charge between $50-150
  • Outside of tuition costs are uniform and travel costs at times
image from families.net

Ways to Save

Fortunately, there are some things you can do to cut costs and save your sanity while still letting your daughter try out for the figure skating club. Be wise with where and how you spend your money – especially if you are new to an activity, it is easily to be swindled into spending more than you need to.

  • Look into used or free equipment. Many cities have second hand stores for musical instruments and sports necessities. You can also search around online, look in your local newspaper listings, or just put out a plea on Facebook for the item you need.
  • Ask parent friends what they’ve thought of a particular coach or studio. Research them online too and see if you can find any reviews, positive or negative. Cost will often be mentioned if a person felt their time was or was not worth it. You can find dozens of free parent reviews and recommendations at ActivityHero.com!
  • Make a family rule to keep costs under control – allow only one extracurricular per child per season. Or, settle for only rec center programs versus private studios during the school year, with more intensive opportunities made available over the summer.
  • Research locations that offer financial aid or some sort of assistance that your family is eligible for and try them out before the more expensive places.

In the end, kids thrive and succeed in a successful home environment – extracurriculars are icing on the cake of life. Do what you can and find simple and free ways every day to build up your child’s self-confidence and interest in the world around them.

 

Written by Tamara Warta