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Your Patch Guide to Picking the Perfect Summer Camp

Ignore the cool temperatures, slots at the best local day camps are filling now.

There are rain puddles drowning many of our lawns, but many parents have already begun searching for the perfect summer camp for their kids.

With so many choices, the process can be time-consuming and stressful, but with Scarsdale Parks and Recreation Department's enrollment for camps opening up next Thursday, April 1 (yes it's that close),  we've put together this local summer camp guide to help take some of the guesswork out of making that fateful decision.

The "Perfect" Experience

Parents have to begin by narrowing down the choices. Is your child ready for a sleepaway camp or are you looking for a day camp closer to home? Should you choose a specialty camp that focuses on certain skills or values? And maybe most important, what can you afford?

Adam Weinstein, the executive director of Camp Wizard, said there's no magic formula to finding the right camp. "In choosing a camp, you have to look at what's the best match for your child and family. For some families, what kind of mission or values the camp has is important. For others it's how comfortable they are with the director. Or what is the quality of tennis instruction or the facilities? You're going to find different levels of all those things." 

The group's Web site, CampWizard.org, helps parents hone in on specific camps – both sleepaway and day camps -- that meet their needs. You can narrow your options by choosing a region, whether you want a coed or single-sex camp, length of session, specialty and budget. Camp Wizard will find camps that match your criteria – and all of them are accredited by the American Camping Association, meaning they've met 300 health and safety standards. Camp Wizard also has a staff member, Renee Flax, dedicated to talking parents through the process.

Most parents start looking for a summer day camp now, Weinstein said. He suggests parents plan a year ahead when looking for a resident camp, so if you're looking for a camp for summer 2011, you should start visiting them this summer. 

"It's great to see the camps in action, get a tour, meet the directors," Weinstein said. "The earlier you choose the more financial options you have and the more financial planning you can do." 

If you want to send your child to a sleepaway camp this summer and haven't toured the facilities, Weinstein said it's a good idea to talk to parents whose kids have already been there and the camp directors, and make sure the camp is ACA-approved. 

Sleepaway vs. Day Camp 

Both sleepaway and day camps offer a variety of programs including swimming, sports instruction, hiking, and arts and crafts. There are also religion-based camps, those that focus on special skills from gymnastics to theater to karate, and camps that serve kids with special needs.

Length of stay and prices at sleepaway camps vary widely – on the low end, you'll pay around $500 a week and about $1,000 a week on the high end. Day camps are generally more affordable, particularly when run by nonprofits like the YMCA or your town's recreation department.

Most private resident camps don't offer financial aid, but Weinstein said that if your child has been to a camp and the family's economic situation has changed, it's worthwhile to talk to the director and find out if there are other financial options available.

Sleepaway camps cater to kids as young as seven, up through teenagers. How will you know if your child is ready to go away to camp? Weinstein said if your child is saying they want to go, they're probably ready. Resident camps focus on building independence and confidence, but you should ask yourself how independent your child is already. 

"Are they comfortable sleeping at other people's houses and comfortable being away from their parents for an extended period?" Weinstein said. 

He added that people often make the mistake of thinking the length of a camp stay will determine how well a child will adjust. "If I'm going to be homesick, I'm going to be homesick for the first two days," Weinstein said. After that, most kids are fine, he said. 

Sleepaway camps are rare in Westchester County itself, but there are several options nearby in the Catskills and Hudson Valley. You can check  CampWizard.org for more information. Below are several day camps across Westchester. If you're interested in one, call to schedule a tour. 

Central and South westchester

Scarsdale - Hartsdale - Bronxville Camps
Camp Hillard  26 Elizabeth St., Scarsdale. Ph: 914-949-8857
Started in 1929, Camp Hillard is Westchester's first day camp, serving kids from 3 to 13 years old. Programs include swimming and sports instruction, horseback riding, tennis, and creative and performing arts workshops. Transportation to and from camp is provided. June 29 through Aug. 19. Cost: $7,600 for full summer.  

JCC Midwestchester Camps  999 Wilmot Rd., Scarsdale. Ph: 914-472-3300     The JCC camp offers six different camps that celebrate camper individuality and Jewish American tradition. Camps are co-ed for kids 2 to 15 and run in seven-week sessions. Cost: $500 to $650 a week. 

  • Camp Gadol: for campers 2.6 years to entering 4th grade.
  • Camp Xtreme: for campers entering grades 5 to 8. 
  • Summer Arts Center: for the "independent, creative" 3rd to 8th grader
  • Dance Intensive: campers entering grades 7 and up, intensive training
  • Toward Tomorrow: nursery school-aged campers
  • CIT Summer Experience: entering grades 9 and 10; with day trips and community outreach
  • JCC suggests Surprise Lake Camp in Cold Spring, NY for the sleepaway experience. Contact at info@surpriselake.org or 212-924-3131.

Weissman Teen Tours –517 Almena Ave., Ardsley. Ph: 914-693-7575 Email: wtt@cloud9.net  The Weissman family organizes and supervises this travel group every summer. Choose from five different trips that will take your teen either around the U.S. and Canada or Europe. The earliest trip begins in June. Cost depends on duration and location of tour trips. Price ranges from $5,199 to $11,699. Your teen will have the chance to embark on a night Pacific Ocean cruise, snorkel and scuba at Catalina Island, or mountain bike, rock climb, surf (and so much more) if you choose the U.S. and Canada trips. The Europe trips offer opportunities to embark on overnight English Channel luxury cruise, visit Euro Disney, or ski/snowboard, hike, and whitewater rafting in the Swiss Alps.

Village Parks and Recreation Department: 

  • Teen Travel Camp 2010  1001 Post Rd., Scarsdale. Ph: 914-722-1160 Teen Travel Camp is positioned as a camp for teens that are too old for the typical day camp and too young to have a summer job. The camp promises entering 6th – 9th graders a different day a different trip. Some past trips include Mountain Creek Water Park, Project Oceonology Cruise, Deep Sea Fishing, Indoor Rock Climbing, Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, and Liberty Science Center. Choose from the 3 week session July 6 – July 23 ($1,350) and/or the 2-week session July 26 – August 6 ($950). The registration deadline is Friday, April 30. 
  • Soccer Camp –Quaker Ridge Elementary School, 125 Weaver St., Scarsdale. In soccer camp, children (entering 1st -8th grades) will learn the fundamentals of both offense and defense positions in a fun and challenging environment. The instructors will simulate game situation drills at a level for all ability levels to participate and enjoy. Your child will have the chance to meet other children interested in soccer while improving his or her soccer skills. There are three options to choose from: Full Season $222, 3 weeks $165, and 2 weeks $118. Camp runs from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
  • Sports Camp – Scarsdale High School, 1057 Post Rd. Ph: : 914-722-1160 Third through ninth-graders will have the chance to play in a range of sports including baseball, touch football, basketball, field hockey, STX lacrosse, and track and field. In addition to the daily game competitions, the children at Sports Camp will learn proper warm-up procedures, the importance of physical fitness, skills development, and team work. The camp also features a culmination of all the skills into a World Series of sports week where awards are distributed. There are three options to choose from: Full Season $222, 3 weeks $165, and 2 weeks $118. Camp runs from 9 a.m. to 12:00 noon.

Circus Arts Camp 555 West Hartsdale Avenue, Hartsdale; 420 S. Riverside Avenue, #174, Croton. Ph: 914-923-4650 Email: mail@circusartscampny.com  Your kids can run away to the circus this summer, minus the creepy carnies. Safety-certified instructors teach juggling, clowning, unicycling, trapeze, wire walking, balancing and more. For kids ages 7 and up. Three, 2-week sessions run 6/28 through 8/6, each session ending with a student performance. Aerial Arts Week is offered 8/9 to 8/13, featuring instruction in the lyra, Spanish web and flying trapeze. Cost: $1,500 per session, $450 deposit; Counselor in Training program: $575 per session; $275 deposit; Aerial Arts Week: $800, $350 deposit. 

Summer Programs for High School Students at Sarah Lawrence College                    1 Mead Way, Bronxville. 914-337-0700

  • Five-Week Summer Filmmaking Intensive runs from Sunday, June 27–Saturday, July 31, 2010 (Tuition: $4,050; Housing: $1,425; Meal Plan: $650). High School students will have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in all aspects of filmmaking. Students will focus on writing for the screen, directing, production, and post-production. Instructions will be supplemented with guest speakers and behind-the-scenes visits to Manhattan production studios and editing facilities. Ultimately, students will leave with their own short film they wrote, directed, produced, shot, and edited.
  • Writers Village: A Creative Writing Intensive runs from Sunday, July 11 – Saturday, July 31, 2010 (Tuition: $2,450; Housing & Meal Plan: $1,450). High School students will immerse themselves in the craft of creative writing with the help of Sarah Lawrence's writing faculty. Students will participate in a poetry workshop, and either a fiction or creative non-fiction workshop.
  • Summer in the City runs from Sunday, July 11–Saturday, July 31, 2010 (Tuition: $2,750; Housing & Meal Plan: $1,450). High School students will take three, one-week classes about the history and literature, architecture and film of New York. To supplement the classes, students will have the chance to travel into Manhattan, and visit museums, neighborhoods, and notable landmarks.
  • Concentrating on the Visual: Painting, Sculpture, and Printmaking runs from Sunday, July 11—Saturday, July 31, 2010 (Tuition: $2,500; Housing & Meal Plan: $1,450). High School students will participate in instructional workshops focusing on drawing, painting, sculpture and printmaking. To supplement the workshops, students will take a trip to a local museum and sit in on evening artist lectures.
  • Exploring Musical Theatre runs from Sunday, July 11 – Saturday, July 31, 2010 (Tuition: $2,450; Housing & Meal Plan: $1,450).  High School students will learn acting techniques and vocal techniques, receive vocal coaching and choreography instruction, and have the opportunity to create and develop their own original work. The program promises intensive classes that "will develop and strengthen the skills needed to propel your creative work to the next level."

Rye 

Rye YMCA Discovery Camp  21 Locust Ave., Rye. Phone: 914-967-6363
The Discovery Camp is for kids 4 to 11, split into a lower camp (pre-K to first grade) and an upper camp (second to fifth grade). Campers learn the YMCA's four core values: caring, honesty, respect and responsibility through character development education built into all programs. There are four two-week sessions, costing $440 to $450 a week. Membership to the Y is required. The YMCA summer program also offers Just 3 and Kinder Camps, Sports Camps, Teen Expeditions and more.

Harrison 
Harrison Recreation Center  Sollazzo Center. 270 Harrison Ave., Harrison.       Ph: 914-670-3035  Email: recreation@harrison-ny.gov                                                The Harrison Recreation Center offers a number of year-round youth programs, many of them free. You can download a schedule from their Web site. This summer, the Rec Center will offer a one-week intensive film camp for ages 11 to 14 and one for ages 8 to 10. With guidance from professional filmmakers, aspiring filmmakers will work as a team to produce short films as actors, directors, camera operators, writers, editors, and light and sound engineers. Cost: $295 for older group; $275 for younger group. Fee includes materials, equipment and a DVD of the finished product. Contact Patrick McCullogh at 413-320-6071 for more information. 

Larchmont-Mamaroneck 
Applause Westchester, 114 W. Boston Post Rd., Mamaroneck. Ph: 914-835-2200
Applause Westchester presents Camp Applause, week-long theater camps. Each week your child will cycle through classes such as acting, singing, set design, audition technique, Broadway dance, hip-hop, acting for TV, costume design and more. Different weekly themes and a visit from a Broadway star are highlights of each session. Week-long summer camps run from July through Sept. 3. Monday-Friday, 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Cost: Camp Applause Stars (4 & 5 year olds) $275 a week. Camp Applause (K-5th grade) $495 a week. 

Badger Sports Camp, 119 Rockland Ave., Larchmont. Ph: 914-834-1084
Badger is a classic all-around, day camp with activities that include swimming, baseball, basketball, soccer, gymnastics, tennis, tae-kwando, yoga, arts and crafts, and miniature golf. Operated by the Collins family since 1945, Badger camp includes hot lunch, door-to-door transportation, and towels. For kids ages 3-13. Cost: $4,500 for 4 weeks. Four week minimum, dates are flexible. 

Tarrytown-Sleepy Hollow 
YMCA Tarrytown – 62 Main St., Tarrytown. Ph: 914-631-4807 The Tarrytown YMCA offers a number of summer programs for all ages.

  • Tiny Tots and Kinder Care Camps, for information and availability call Susan Barak at 914- 631-4807 ext. 26.
  • Camp Combe program is designed for children ages 4 –15 to enhance self-esteem, build interpersonal relationships, develop skills, appreciate the environment, work on character development and have fun. Camp Combe is located on 80 acres of wilderness in Putnam Valley. Featuring Mini Camp, Big Camp, Arts Camp, Camp Y Tech, Camp Upward Bound. Reservations and deposits are being accepted now. Prices for the different camps vary. For more information contact Camp Combe at 845-526-0808. 
  • Summer Shakespeare Camp for students entering grades 2- 5 and 6-12. Intensive, four-week program culminating in multiple outdoor performances of Shakespeare at Patriot's Park in Tarrytown. Kids will be able to hone their acting skills, design costumes, create props and sets and produce a show. Tuition for 2-5 graders is $800; tuition for 6-12 graders is $900. Scholarships are available. For more information, contact Barbara Turk at 914-631-4807 ext. 19. 

NORTHERN WESTCHESTER

Chappaqua-Mount Kisco

Wagon Road Day Camp  431 Quaker Rd., Chappaqua. Ph: 914-238-4761  Contact: Vince Canziani  Email: vincec@childrensaidsociety.org. Wagon Road is a coed camp for kids 6 through 13 run by the Children's Aid Society that serves kids with special needs, including those with asthma or respiratory ailments. The camp also has an overnight respite program for developmentally disabled kids ages 7 to 17. Cost: $200 to $350 a week. Financial aid is available. 

Bits, Bytes & Bots 605 Millwood Rd., Mount Kisco.Ph: 914-218-8175                Email: westchester@bitsbytesbots.com Bits, Bytes & Bots Summer Camp provides a "mental playground" for kids, where they can build and program robots, make animated movies, create computer games and comic books. The curriculum teaches engineering, logic, problem solving, programming, and story-telling along with computer skills. Program includes beginners and advanced classes for 6- to 14-year-olds. Cost: $315 a week. Register by April 1 and get a $20/week discount. Register for more than one week and get an additional 5% off. 

Bedford-Katonah
The Bedford Learning Center –  382 Cantitoe St., Bedford Hils. Ph: (914) 234-2620, Email: BedfordLearning@aol.com. At The Bedford Learning Center kids enjoy a fun, relaxed and small group experience. Mini-camp themes include: arts/crafts, science/nature, cooking, animals, and children's literature. Programs are offered during vacation weeks and three weeks before camp starts in June. Camp classroom centers include dramatic play, blocks, art, literacy and science areas. During the school year, they offer afternoon enrichment classes for preschool children. 

Katonah Art Center – 131 Bedford Rd., Katonah. (914) 232-4843                            The Katonah Art Center offers weekly half-day or full-day camps in art, computer art, pottery and photography. The camps cater to three age groups: Art and Imagination Camp (ages 3 1/2 - 5); Children's Art Camp (grades 1 - 5) and Teen Art Camp (grades 6 and up). Children and Teens Art Camps cost $335/week for five half-day session, and $560/week for five full-day sessions. Cost of the Art and Imagination Camp varies widely based on how many days a week your child attends. All camps provide an extended day program from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. for an additional $75 a week. 

School of Rock – 12 Court Rd., Bedford. Ph: 914-234-0418 Email:Westchester@SchoolofRock.com  The Paul Green School of Rock  – inspired by the movie of the same name starring Jack Black – says it's "saving rock and roll one kid at a time." Students enrolled in the Performance Camp or Song Writing/Recording Camp will spend their weeks working in a hands-on atmosphere learning performance techniques and the complexities of being in a rock band. Workshops will include group lessons on an instrument of their choice (guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and vocals), music theory instructions, rehearsal techniques, performance practice, songwriting and group band rehearsals. All students will perform a real all-ages rock show on the last day of the program. For kids 7-18. Cost: Camp 1 Performance, June 28-July 2: $595. Camp 2 Songwriting and Performance, July 12-July 23: $1,500. Camp 3 Performance Aug. 2-Aug. 13: $1,250. Camp 4 Performance, Aug. 23-27: $595.

jeff lorenz May 26, 2013 at 09:28 PM
When considering a summer camp for the first time I suggest you try Summer Camp Advice a website setup for parents and help them decide on the best type of camp for their child. http://www.summercampadvice.com

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