Note from Cali: As many of my regular readers know, sadly, my mother is in the last stages of her fight with lung cancer. One way I am adjusting my work+life fit is to draw upon the expertise of some wonderful experts and writers who will appear periodically as guest bloggers.
This week please welcome Jill Tipograph, founder/director of Everything Summer , who describes her business as “the only independent resource to which discerning families can turn for unbiased summer planning guidance.” Jill will offer some great tips on summer planning from her book, Your Everything Summer Guide & Planner . Take it away Jill!
Even though summer is officially less than a month away, parents can still maximize great experiences for their kids and teens. Plus, wise parents use the current summer to start thinking about next year’s summer, since quality camps and programs do fill early. Here are some shortcuts to help busy families make the right summer plans for their kids…
1. If you plan to send your child to day camp, don’t rely just on recommendations from friends/neighbors. Do your own (thorough) homework too. Be sure to investigate things like staff hiring policies. And check with your company’s Flexible Spending Account, to see if your employer covers day camps. If not, you may be eligible for a dependent care credit for part of your child’s day camp tuition (check IRS Publication 503 and Form 2441).
2. If your child is already enrolled, be sure to familiarize yourself with the camp’s policies, especially transportation, medical, extended hours, electronics, food (especially allergies), discipline, homesickness and communications.
3. Plan some fun family time, whether for the evening or weekends. Summer is the perfect time to play outdoor games, share great projects with your kids (e.g. photo or scrap book albums), plan a beach weekend, discover a new area, begin family rituals and more.
4. Great vacation ideas include family camps, adventure trips and community service. Meaningful experiences offer lasting memories.
5. How do you know if your child is ready for overnight camp? Consider these factors: how does he/she handle sleepovers? Is he/she bored with day camp activities, ready to continue the day when they return home? Can they care for themselves physically? Are new situations comfortable for them?
6. The best time to look for an overnight camp is a full year before — so you can visit while camp is in session. If your child is turning 8 or 9 in 2008, start your visits in 2007!
7. Make sure you’re preparing your child for the camp experience. It goes beyond shopping and packing! Make sure you’re calm and keep your anxieties to yourself. If you seem nervous or ambivalent, your child will pick up on your feelings.
8. When your child is away, write often and keep letters upbeat. If you receive a letter or phone call indicating homesickness, don’t dwell on it; kids often react and move on quickly, while parents can analyze and agonize. Call the camp for their assistance; they know best how to deal with this.
9. As kids get older, their camp needs change. You’ll be able to tell when your child has outgrown a particular program. Teen programs are more varied than ever. You might even consider a “combination” summer of different program types, especially during pre-college summers.
10. Consider engaging a professional and unbiased summer consultant. Because we work independently and closely with our families, programs try to find spots for our clients when space is typically restricted. Not only can we help with the research and decision-making processes, but we can offer advice throughout the summer — on topics from packing to homesickness to health issues to planning fun getaways for the rest of the family.
And remember, the right camp can be an invaluable experience for your child(ren). Michael Eisner, Disney CEO said, “I can hardly think of an aspect of my life that wasn’t positively affected by my camping experience.” Plan early and plan wisely!
To learn more about Jill Tipograph and Everything Summer ®, which has been featured in The New York Times,WNBC-TV’s Today Show, Wall Street Journal, Smart Money, Business Week, Bloomberg News, Chicago Tribune, and National Public Radio go to www.everythingsummer.com, or email@example.com, 866-995-1122.