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 an expert like Helene Abrams.
by Karyn Brodsky
“We have to let our kids go have experiences. It’s an opportunity to reinvent oneself.” – Helene Abrams, Camp Advisor
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 could be more accurate, according 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 is also the conduit for the 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 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. Advisors thoroughly vet the programs by interviewing directors, personally visiting programs in session, and gathering feedback from recent participants’ families.
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 presuppositions exist; they blossom and become who they want to be. The programs help kids develop life passions that they may not have otherwise discovered. It also introduces them to different careers and experiences, which can help them find college majors or make 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, and the thorough vetting process helps reassure parents. For more information: Helene Abrams, 214.484.8141 or Helene@tipsontripsandcamps.com
Editor’s Note: Tips on Trips and Camps is a free advisory service established in 1971 that connects parents and kids with camps and teen programs.
GOOD ADVICE Some questions you should ask…
What is special about the program?
• The philosophy? Quality of the staff and facilities?
What are the costs?
• Tuition? Optional activities? Spending money?
• Special clothing and equipment? Insurance?
• Refund policy?
Who are the staff members?
• Age and experience? Recruitment and training?
• Are staff members from overseas?
• Who drives the vehicles?
Who are the participants?
• Coed? Girls only? Boys only? Geographic representation?
• How are ages grouped?
How are problems handled?
• Medical emergencies? Smoking? Curfew violations?
• Special needs? Communications with parents?
Are religious services available?
• When? Denominational? Non-Denominational?
What is the percentage of return campers? Staff?
Courtesy of Tips On Trips and Camps