What your kids do in the summer can impact their future in tremendous ways. So how do you choose from among the thousands of overnight programs, camps and trips out there? Ask Helene Abrams.
by Karyn Brodsky
In 1953, Hodding Carter, a prominent newspaper editor, noted in his book, Where Main Street Meets the River that the two greatest things we can give our children are “roots and wings.”
Nothing can be more accurate, says Helene Abrams, a Dallas mom and local advisor for Tips on Trips and Camps, a free advisory service that not only connects parents and kids with camps and teen programs but also is the conduit for lifetime connections that kids make while there. As parents, we want to hold our children close and help them establish their roots. Yet, Abrams says that equally as important is to give our offspring their wings to explore, experience the world around them and create new relationships. “Camp is not just a place to spend your summer; it’s a deep connection with others, becoming part of a supportive community,” says Abrams. “It’s something you will hold in your heart forever.”
Tips on Trips and Camps represents over 600 overnight summer camps, trips and programs for students ages 8-18. These run the gamut from traditional and specialty camps to student travel and language immersion, from sports and cultural exploration to STEM programs and outdoor adventure and community service in Costa Rica, Fiji, Africa and across the globe. Choose from internships and academic study on college campuses in the U.S. and abroad, music camps, digital media and robotics programs. There are overnight camps, pre-college programs, sailing and wilderness adventures, teen tours, biking, creative and performing arts programs, and camps that are perfect for those with special needs. Advisors thoroughly vet the programs, by interviewing directors, personally visiting programs in session and gathering feedback from recent participants’ families. Helene Abrams holds a camp fair once a year so that parents and kids can learn about the programs offered and meet the directors and representatives.
No matter which camp or teen program your child chooses, these summer activities expose kids to new ideas. Abrams says it’s the relationships you build in life that differentiate you. “We have to let our kids go have experiences,” explains Abrams. “It’s an opportunity to reinvent oneself.” When teens or tweens go on a program with a different peer group, no presumptions exist; they blossom and become who they want to be, Abrams adds. The programs help kids develop life passions that they may not have otherwise discovered. It also shows them different careers and avenues, which can help them find college majors or career choices.
While many parents are anxious about sending their child away for the first time, Abrams’ specialty is matching teens and tweens to the perfect program for them, and the thorough vetting process helps reassure parents. The camp and travel program experience is also invaluable when preparing to go away to college. For college applications and for the resume, camps show personal growth and development as a result of the life skills learned and the ability to adapt to new life situations. “Kids today are so privileged,” says Abrams. “Camp and teen programs can help them learn that they are part of something bigger and that they feel better when they give back.”
While growing up, Abrams never had the opportunity to go to camp. When picking up her son after a summer session, she told the camp director that she wished she could have gone. He immediately hired her, and Abrams spent the next eleven summers working there. She experienced what the kids did and saw firsthand how it impacted their personal growth.
Though Abrams’ children went to summer camp, participated in teen programs and traveled abroad on summer leadership programs, she wishes she had known more about these programs early on, so they could experience more and gain independence. After her kids were grown, she got involved with Tips on Trips and Camps in 2008, at her cousin Jenny’s—who is also an advisor—suggestion. Currently, there are 16 advisors in the U.S. and two in Europe. Each summer, the group travels to see many of the camps and experience some of the programs for themselves. “By working with Tips I wanted to help other kids experience personal growth,” says Abrams.
Overall, it’s been a dream career for Abrams. “It’s so rewarding and a lot of fun to work with the families and hear the feedback,” she says. “This is such a happy job!”
For More Information contact Helene Abrams at 214.484.8141 or Helene@tipsontripsandcamps.com
Editor’s Note: This is a FREE advisory service that connects parents and kids with camps and teen programs.