Genesee Valley Parent Camp & Summer Activity Guide : Page 4
gearing up for summer camp PHOTO COURTESY OF YMCA OF GREATER ROCHESTER • KEN HUTN PHOTOGRAPHER By John Boccacino W 4 www.GVParent.com hile it's only March now, summer might seem like a distant dream, but astute parents and children are already mapping out their plans for summer camp. Ah summer camp, that annual ritual of care-free fun, where making s'mores and playing fun games such as kickball and capture the flag replaces school work and chores as the top priority of school-aged children.
Gearing Up For Summer Camp
While it's only March now, summer might seem like a distant dream, but astute parents and children are already mapping out their plans for summer camp. Ah summer camp, that annual ritual of carefree fun, where making s'mores and playing fun games such as kickball and capture the flag replaces school work and chores as the top priority of school-aged children.<br /> <br /> Creative Options <br /> <br /> But summer camps have changed drastically over the last 20 years. While traditional summer camps – those with an emphasis on introducing campers to a wide array of activities such as arts and crafts, swimming, and music – still exist, today's summer camp options feature a bevy of interest- based activities for parents seeking something different for their children. <br /> <br /> Growing up, Kara Travers enthusiastically looked forward to spending her summers at the YMCA's Camp Arrowhead, a traditional summer camp that utilizes 55 acres of land in Pittsford. Travers has fond memories of her summer camp experience – which included a ropes course, swimming, archery, and performing theatrical skits – so much so that Travers wound up becoming a camp counselor at Arrowhead.<br /> <br /> Fast-forward 20 years and Travers still spends her summers at Arrowhead, only this time as the YMCA's Center Director for the camp, which Travers says attracts as many as 500 school-aged children for a weekly session. "Summer camps are a completely different market than 25 years ago," says Travers. "The label of summer camp has become much more specialized, from Harry Potter camps to computer or science camps. Those are specialized summer camp offerings that cater to children's interests and abilities, and they can help further their school-year educations. There's a place for all of those specialized camps, in addition to the traditional summer camp experience."<br /> <br /> At Arrowhead, campers are divided by grade into small groups and experience a smattering of activities, from playing sports in the morning to arts and crafts time. After lunch, campers can go for a swim, test out their archery skills, perform a skit and participate in theme-based group activities before going home for the day. When campers return the next day, Travers says the counselors mix up the agenda to offer different activities. There are also specialty skills camps such as archery, golf, kayaking, mountain biking, rock climbing/ropes course and sailing.<br /> <br /> As Travers pointed out, specialty camps are on the rise, and Nazareth College's Infotonics Summer Camp is a great example of summer camps branching out to offer diverse, skill-driven sessions that go beyond boondoggle and campfires. For the last 11 years, this theme camp has piqued children's curiosity about science while providing a fun, engaging atmosphere to learn, says Bill Lammela, the chair of Nazareth's department of chemistry and biochemistry who also directs the four-week science camp that runs during the month of July.<br /> <br /> This summer, camp participants can learn about the "World of Energy," take a "Mission to Mars," participate in their own criminal investigation during "CSI-Case of Calculating Copycat," and delve into the "Magic of Harry Potter." The sessions are designed for fourthgraders through freshmen in high school. <br /> <br /> "Our goals are two-fold: to have our students have fun doing science activities while teaching them about science," Lammela, says of the camp, which has been housed at Nazareth for six summers. "We hide the learning piece by having our students work on a different topic each day. We teach them specific scientific terms and conduct assessments afterwards to make sure the kids are learning and having fun in this hands-on environment. That's really important, to make it hands-on and inquiry-based instead of just lecturing to the kids."<br /> <br /> During the Harry Potter portion of the camp, children will learn about different spells and potions featured in the J.K. Rowling books and movies, and the science behind these wizardly actions. A potions wizard even addresses the campers – most of whom come dressed in their finest Harry Potter garb – about the different types of potions available to Potter and his friends. At CSI camp, students attempt to solve mysteries (a teacher has gone missing, for example) by gathering crime scene evidence, analyzing the data and working with police officers to understand how crimes are investigated. Lammela says the highlight of the camp comes when the students are forced to work together and put their knowledge of the crime to the test to deduce which suspect committed the crime.<br /> <br /> For Sports Enthusiasts <br /> <br /> For parents of sports enthusiasts, there are ample sports-specific summer camp offerings in and around Rochester. Most of the area's colleges host sports camps that include a wide variety of different athletics. Among them, Monroe Community College has offered its assorted Summer Sports Camps for years, giving area children ages 6 and up the chance to improve their skills by participating in fun and engaging drills and games while learning from high-level college coaches and players. <br /> <br /> This summer, MCC plans on offering boys and girls soccer, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls lacrosse and baseball to interested area children. Campers will be assessed and broken down into groups based on their age and skills. "We saw substantial growth in the soccer and girls lacrosse camps from last year, which was our first offering girls lacrosse," says Liz Kelly, the program director and physical education studies director at MCC. "We would like this to be an all-encompassing sports program where campers pick up with their sports where they left off during their regular seasons. We hope to complement what the campers learned in their town and travel leagues so that, when they come to our sports camp, they're enhancing their skills while having fun playing a sport they love." <br /> <br /> For the 42nd year, through MCC's Summer Youth Sports Program, children residing in Rochester's inner-city can, free of charge, experience their favorite sports while learning the game from trained professionals, Kelly adds. The three-week camp runs during the last three weeks of July and provides instruction in basketball, football, soccer and lacrosse, among other sports options. Campers also get to go swimming and have breakfast and lunch provided while receiving free bussing to and from the camp.<br /> <br /> Picking a Program <br /> <br /> When it comes to selecting a summer camp, there are two fundamental rules that must be followed to ensure a child enjoys the summer camp experience, says Denise Bellavia, the owner/director of the family owned and operated Creative Themes Day Camp in Perinton. "Children have to want to go to the summer camp, they can't just be shipped off to any old camp, and once they're at camp, there have to be fun, stimulating activities that captivate their attention spans while helping them learn and grow," Bellavia says. <br /> <br /> "Summer camp is all about having fun; if a child has had a fun, enjoyable time at camp, they'll want to come back year after year," Bellavia adds. "We have a lot of fun while keeping our kids active. We're similar to an overnight camp because of our outdoor activities, but we have the luxury of being a in a day camp setting." <br /> <br /> Creative Themes Day Camp offers children activities in arts and crafts, games, theatre, swimming and outdoor activities such as fishing, canoeing and archery. Following lunch and recess, campers experience free choice time where they can leave their grade-specific groups and participate in a wide-variety of activities. <br /> <br /> Regardless of the activity or theme of a child's summer camp, having fun is what the summer camp experience should be all about.<br /> <br /> John Boccacino is a freelance writer living in Webster, NY who reported on sports and local news for more than 6 1/2 years with the Democrat and Chronicle newspaper. He is currently the Director of Sports Information for Keuka College.
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