Monthly Archives:November 2017

  • 10 Great Holiday Gifts for Your Happy Camper!

    Posted November 25, 2017

    There is no gift better than the gift of CAMP! Organized activities, opportunities to learn new skills and developing close-knit friendships are all gifts that will last a lifetime. Once the decision is made to give camp (truly the best gift of all) – parents may find themselves looking for fun and inexpensive gift ideas for their camper!

    I’ve received excellent “camp related” gifts over the years and I mail my campers something special every winter to get them excited for the upcoming camp season. This year, I’ve narrowed down my long Santa scroll to the Top 10 Gift Ideas that any veteran or newbie camper will love to open this Holiday Season! Click on the pictures for a link to the product.

    1. Personalized Deck of Cards: Cards are a great all-inclusive game for any age camper. Make their deck extra special by getting them personalized! Consider an all-family photo, a sweet photo of your camper with his or her pet, or a cherished scenery photo of a favorite place or backyard to appear on the deck. They will have the coolest cards to share during cabin rounds of “Slap Jack” and “Crazy Eights.”


    1. Colored Zinc: Are you worried about your camper not wearing sunscreen? Make sunscreen fun by gifting colored zinc. Campers won’t forget to decorate their faces with all different colors and designs before heading to the lake for a swim. You can be creative by choosing their camp colors so they also remember to wear it for special events or camp pride days.



    1. Mini Poncho: Yes, it’s true; rainy days at camp are still better than sunny days anywhere else. But why pack a large, heavy rain jacket that takes up tons of space and is only worn maybe a few times? These mini ponchos that fold up are so practical (and stylish) in bright patterns and colors. Once they dry up, your camper can just wrap them back up and stick the poncho away in his or her trunk, taking up minimal space.



    1. Toiletry Pouches:Sharing a small bathroom space with twelve other campers and counselors isn’t easy – and keeping your own toiletries and personal items organized is important. For girls, check out these sweet pouches in different sizes that will look neat on a shared bathroom shelf and for boys check out thismasculine toiletry backpack in camouflage that he can hang off a bathroom shelf.



    1. Headlamp Flashlight: At the end of a fun, silly, adventurous and LONG day at camp – there is nothing better than getting under your covers and having a little bit of “flashlight time” before falling asleep. This headlamp flashlight is truly the best. Campers can strap it onto their heads to have their hands free for reading, games or that last minute trip to the bathroom before bed!



    1.  Showaflops: Flip-flops are an absolute must at camp for showering! Showaflops are comfortable, practical and fun. They are quick drying flip-flops with slip resistant holes making them the coolest sandal to wear to the showers or to the lake.



    1. Airbrush Sports Balls: Footballs, frisbees, soccer balls, hackie sacks – all things your campers will find all over camp. But your camper will love having his or her favorite item airbrushed with his or her name (or camp name!) on it!



    1.  Stationary: Stationary is the perfect gift for all those parents out there who are convinced their child will actually find time to write them letters this summer. 🙂 Check out this adorable stationary that you can monogram or personalize for those few (I mean… MANY!!!) letters home to parents, friends and grandparents.



    1. Banana Grams: This is an educational and fun game for boys and girls, best described to me once by a camper as “Modern Scrabble!” Campers can even come up with themes for different rounds. For example, “only camp words!” “only names of camp activities!” or “only counselor names!”



    1. Temporary Tattoos: I can’t promise your camper won’t hack into these before he or she departs for camp… but temporary tattoos and hand tattoos are always popular at camp. Campers are constantly dressing up for different themed events and campfires; and these are easy to pack and inexpensive idea to send them with.




    And don’t forget to check with your camp to see if they have an online store, where you can often buy camp T-shirts, sweatshirts, pajamas and more fun logo-wear to show your camp pride.

    Happy Camping!

    Amanda Ward

    Director, Camp Chinqueka

    About the Author

    Amanda Ward is the Director of Camp Chinqueka, having spent many summers as a camper there in the 1990’s and started as a staff member in the 2005. She has fond memories of the activities she tried, the lessons she learned and the friends she met along the way. Amanda graduated from Kent School in Kent, Connecticut and and holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. She has a background in Theater and Education and has taught Fifth Grade and Kindergarten in both Connecticut and Manhattan (NYC) private schools. Amanda’s love for working with children, training counselors and teaching camp traditions continues to grow every year. She develops close relationships with campers and camp families and prides herself on knowing every one of her campers by name!

  • Tips & Tricks For First Time Parents!

    Posted November 14, 2017

    Sending your child to sleepaway camp for the first time is one of the biggest milestones of parenthood! We get it – you are excited for them to start this chapter but you are scared to let them go. Even for an independent, confident child – 2 or more weeks away from home can be difficult. And for parents… sometimes even more challenging! Here are a few tips and tricks for first time parents as the lead up to Opening Day approaches.

    1. Get them comfortable – It’s never too early to get to know the camp you chose. Together with your camper, check out all of the camps social media pages, watch videos on YouTube and explore the camps website and virtual tour. Use positive language when talking about the camp. If you have the opportunity to meet a Director, ask for a home visit from the camp or take an in person tour– do it! The more familiar your camper is with the camp, the more comfortable they will feel on drop off day.
    1. Have a sleepover – Many first time campers have never had a “practice run” before heading off to camp for the first time. Once you decide on camp, start to plan sleepovers with friends or family members so your camper can experience sleeping in a different bed and being in environments without you. This is also a great way for parents to practice being away from your future camper. If they ask, try not to call them or pick them up early. Practice makes perfect.
    1. Psych them up – When you are talking about camp with your camper, be as positive as you can. “We are so excited for you!” “We are jealous, we want to go to camp!” and “You are so lucky you get to go to camp” – are great lines to reassure your camper (and yourself!) Try not to focus on things that might go wrong, such as missing each other or homesickness, and focus on the things you know will go right.
    1. Shop till you drop – A great way to get your camper both pumped up and comfortable about camp is including them in every step of the process. Bring your camper with you to pick out a trunk, camp linens or even items as simple as toiletries. It is helpful for campers to have tangible objects to get them thinking and preparing ahead for their big camp adventure.
    1. Make a plan – Discuss how you and your camper will communicate when they are away. Camps have various different rules and philosophies on phone calls, emails and communication. Educate yourself on the camps policies and agree together on the format and frequency of contact. During moments of communication, remember to keep it light-hearted and happy. Most importantly, understand that for children hearing a parents voice while away brings all kinds of emotions bubbling to the surface. Your camper will want to tell you the highs and lows and will be looking to you for reassurance. Tell them that you love them and that you are confident in their ability to cope. 
    1. Reflect – While your camper is away from you, try to remember that they are doing all of the things you hoped they would when you first started researching camps all those months ago. Yes, your camper will be participating in activities like waterskiing, dancing on stage or climbing to the top of the rock tower. But additionally, and more importantly, they will experience how to get along and live with others and how to figure things out for themselves, all while learning to be better communicators and growing as individuals. Use this time while your camper is away from you to reflect on your parenting goals for the upcoming school year and to prepare to welcome home your more confident, wiser and braver child.

    Happy Camping!

    Amanda Ward

    Director, Camp Chinqueka