-So, do you know what your kids are doing this summer? It's never too soon to start planning. Many kids love going overnight camp but how do you know if your kids are ready and how do you choose the best camp for them? Jill Tipograph, summer planning expert and author of your Everything Summer Guide and Planner is here to help us figure that out. Thanks so much for coming in. -My pleasure. So, let's start with why send your kids to overnight camp? Why not just send them to a great summer camp, you know, day camp in your area? -No, overnight camp is really about learning life lessons. It's about creating very strong friendships, problem resolution, self esteem, independence, all the skills that you really want your kids to learn early on so they can be stronger as they grow up. It's really a community where kids really feel like they belong. It's a carefree time, we have our greatest memories, and it's really something that I hope can be, a rite of passage for most children. -So, they gain a lot, they get a lot out of it but how do you know that they're ready for it because it's a really big step. -It is, one of the first things you need to do is to evaluate your children physically and emotionally. Physically, can they care for themselves? Can they brush their teeth? Can they shower? Can they have overnights comfortably with friends and relatives? And then you need to look at their emotional maturity, not just their chronological age. In addition, there are kids that indicate that day camp was no longer fulfilling for them in the sense that they come home and they want more activities, and they want 24/7 entertainment and kids actually start talking about overnight camp to their parents to let them know they're interested. -Okay, so the kids might be ready to go, but I'm not ready, prepared, ready, I mean my kids are 6 and 3, I can't imagine sending them away to camp at least about for a few years anyway, but how do you sort of let go as a parent and say, "Okay, it's time to let them go." -Well, I think that parents really need to separate their anxieties. The kids are sensitized to our feelings as parents any day of the week, and if you give a mix messages that you are apprehensive about their going, they will start to get nervous. You really need to say if this is what my child wants to do and we have found the right camp and they trust the director then we have to let go and we need to look for external systems to help you support yourself not the child. -Here we go. Go, go, go. -It's-- really what's fun, it really is. -Okay. I gotta let go. -You do. -I'm gonna work on it. I'm gonna work on that. The next step would actually be picking the right camp and there are so many to choose from but they fall into two different categories, right? -They do. There are thousands of camps, but actually when you think about it there are two general types of camps. There are traditional camps and there's specialty camps and within those you can have a co-ed setting or single sex setting. In our traditional camp, you expose to a well-rounded program with the key parameters of camp which are water, art, sports and nature. In a specialty camp, the child has an opportunity to focus on one particular activity or perhaps a passion that they're looking to further develop. Now, these camps happen to be located throughout the country. For instance, up in New England, in Maine, there's a wonderful co-ed full season camp, Camp Laurel, a very well-rounded program. Also there's a half season boys sports oriented camp in Camp [unk], then when you move further west into the country in Wisconsin, there's a wonderful traditional girl's camp called Camp Agawak, dates back 70 years, and go all the way to California were traditional camps are not as popular, there's a camp called Pali Adventures where campers get to dream out 19 different potential opportunities that they're interested in pursuing; how to be a rock star, Hollywood stunt person, a secret agent. -Very cool. I want to go there. -Very, very cool. -Can adults go too? -No, not there. -Not for us. We need to work. Yes, my kids already know where they want to go. They want to go Camp Mika in Bridgestone, Maine, they've been talking about it for a couple of years now. So, they're all set with what their camp-- but there are so many others. There are so many to choose from and in different parts of the country because traditionally I think people think they're all in the Northeast but not so. -That's correct. I mean the majority of overnight camps are on the Northeast because that's where they were born, but over time they have progressed farther out into the country, but the majority of traditional camps I described really are on the Northeast corridor, but you can find some on the other parts of the country. -You can. -Now, what should you consider when you're picking your camp? Are there things to take into account? I know you have to think about location and tuition, what else? -Well, those are actually very important because we talked about the type of camp, but how long your child goes away to camp and the tuition are very important parameters because that will separate the camps. And you also really need to think about tuition long term, all the cost that will go into especially in this economy. The goal that I always have for my clients is for them to return to that camp annually because that's how you really accrue the benefits of camp. -And your friends are there, I mean-- [unk] activities every year so it's a lot of fun. -It is a lot of fun but also before they get there it's still pretty overwhelming in trying to figure this out. So, I have an evaluation process that I share with my clients for [unk], and basically it's the place, the people, the program and the policies and the place we talked about the camp location, the facilities, accreditations. In terms of the people, it's the owners; who are they, who are the staff, who are the campers, where do they come from. In terms of programming you need to understand if your child does better in a structured setting where things are set for them, or they get to [unk] activities and have more decision making in terms of the activities that they'll pursue, and the last one policy is pretty broad, it comes a framework on what's the operations of the camp, in terms of communications and visits and trips, and medical and disciplinary actions and staff training, and all the things that really make up the camp's day to day operation. -There's a lot to think about. It's a big decision to make and I think the most important thing is to start now. People think you wait, but you can't, you do it in the winter. -Well, I would say that winter is the peak time for the summer planning process and what parents need to understand is that if they're flexible in dates and they'll look at a camp as a multiple sessions they'll have a greater opportunities and your kids in the right camp, but if you have only one session length, there are only a certain amount of openings each year and that's why the parents should really even consider starting a year ahead. -Right. -And visit the camps and meet the director, that's important. -Great advice. Start planning now. Jill, thanks so much for coming in. I really appreciate it. And then if you would like more information on choosing the right summer camp you can check out Jill's website. Thanks so much for watching Parents TV. We'll see you next time.