Featured Camps! YMCA South Hampton Roads
This post was written by the YMCA South Hampton Roads, an advertising partner of MyActiveChild.com.
YMCA South Hampton Roads VP of Youth Development, Jamie Childress, shares his tips on picking the best camp.
I have 2 children of my own, one is 5 years old, and the other is 13. When my wife and I are selecting camps for our oldest to attend, the conversation usually begins with reviewing all of the cool new activities and specialty camps Hampton Roads has to offer. This gets us excited and we become eager to show our son all the cool things we want him to take part of, and all of the new “hard” skills he will learn, like rock climbing, catching a football, shooting a bow and arrow, or making a rocket. But each year, our son has a similar, less enthusiastic response, “ok, but what camps are my friends doing?”
Now, as a camping professional with over 20 years of experience operating and managing camp programs, I often don’t take my own advice, especially with my own child. But know this, kids want to come to camp because of their friends, so we, as parents, should find every opportunity to involve our children in programs that foster friendships and provide opportunities for them to practice social and emotional learning skills. Sure, the hard skills they learn while at camp can be valuable and fun, but it’s the social-emotional development parents should be concerned with most.
Camp gives children the safe space to make mistakes, develop an affinity for the outdoors, practice empathy, learn group collaboration, problem-solving and critical thinking. So, as you plan your child’s summer camp experience, you should consider the following:
1. Staff: Child Ratios and Safety. This is a prerequisite for all parents and one that must not be compromised. Consider learning the staff: child ratio before enrolling as small group environments foster relationship building and encourage children to make friends more easily.
2. Specialty Camps vs. Traditional Camps. Specialty camps are the latest craze in the out-of-school time world as parents and children flock to their local camp venues when registration begins hoping to grab a seat in the STEM camp. While specialty camps are great for older campers (8 years and older), parents of younger school-age children should consider sticking with a well-rounded day camp that offers a variety of activities. This strategy helps children reduce phobias and biases and ultimately encourages them to try new things.
3. Consider coming to multiple weeks at the same camp. This strategy leads to stronger social skill development, higher confidence and better friendships. A familiar place and people are comforting to all ages, but more so with children as this familiarity creates a safe space for children to develop a sense of belonging and be themselves. This takes time.
So, as you are planning your camp experience for your children, remember to ask what their friends are doing and try to coordinate where appropriate. And if this is your child’s first camp experience, find a program where character development and social learning is paramount.
Explore 2022 YMCA Summer Camps! Choose from the following programs:
Day Camp at the Y: Activity Central – Activity Central provides campers aged 4-14 with a variety of daily activities and weekly themes keep camp fun and fresh. The camp hours are 6:30am–6pm and a typical day runs 6:30am–9am: Free play, 9am–4pm: Camp Activities, 4–6pm: Free play. Register Here!
- Ages 4–5, Kinder Camp, available at three locations, Kinder Camp is for rising kindergartners who are ready for an all day program.
- Ages 5–9, Activity Central, available at 17 locations, Campers enjoy active play, creative arts, science, and swimming.
- Ages 10–12, Tween Camp, available at 16 locations, Active play, creative arts, science, swimming, and camper’s choice will ensure that tweens will make memories this summer.
- Ages 13–14, Teen Camp, Available in Chesapeake, Teens enjoy activities, team building challenges, and service projects in this leadership development camp
Outdoor Adventure Camp: Explorer Camp – Explorers join family groups with campers of the same age, with a dedicated counselor who guides them through the day, facilitating fun activities. Campers participate in activities as a group and will also have the freedom to choose their own activity during Favorite Activity Time. There are three regional outdoor camps – Camp Red Feather in Norfolk, Camp Arrowhead in Suffolk, and Camp Grom in Virginia Beach.
The camp hours are from 6:30am–6pm and a typical day runs: 6:30am–9am: Free play, 9am–4pm: Outdoor Adventure Camp Activities, 4–6pm: Free play. Register Here for Outdoor Adventure Camp!
- Ages 5–6, First Camp, First Camp provides a fun introductory outdoor adventure experience for our new-to-camp kiddos.
- Ages 6–7, Discovery Camp, Campers discover the natural world through camp activities like archery, swimming, arts & crafts, and songs.
- Ages 8–9, Explorers Camp, Campers discover the natural world through camp activities like archery, challenge course, games, sports, and swimming.
- Ages 10–12, Pathfinders Camp, Campers challenge themselves and grow through camp activities like the Alpine Tower, sports, swimming and more.
- Ages 13–14, Trailblazers Camp, Teens enjoy activities, team building challenges, and service projects in this leadership development camp at Camp Red Feather.
- Ages 5–12, Adaptive Camp, Designed for campers whose abilities require additional assistance when participating in camp activities, Adaptive Camp at the YMCA at JT’s Camp Grom provides a fun, tailored outdoor adventure camp experience with activities like archery, fishing, swimming and more.
- Ages 15–16, Counselor In Training (CIT), At YMCA Camp Red Feather, CIT participants develop and practice the leadership skills they need to become a camp counselor, working first-hand with campers and learning and practicing facilitation skills.
Overnight Camp at YMCA Camp Silver Beach – Located on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, YMCA Camp Silver Beach is an overnight summer camp for ages 8 to 16, set on 151 amazing acres filled with forests, trees and wetlands and surrounded by the beautiful Chesapeake Bay. Campers enjoy beachfront and land activities like swimming, Alpine Tower, tubing, sailing, sports, games, performing arts, and more. This is true paradise—and best of all, it’s just for kids and teens (and, okay, some pretty awesome counselors, lifeguards and instructors too).
YMCA Camp Silver Beach is an all-inclusive overnight camp experience. There are one-week and two-week sessions available. Register for Camp Silver Beach here!
Golf Camp takes place at First Tee—Hampton Roads, located off Princess Anne Road in Virginia Beach, near Virginia Beach National. Half-day and Full-day camps are available.
- Morning Camp runs from 7:30am–12pm. A typical day looks like: 7:30am–9am: Free play, 9am–12pm: Golf camp activities.
- Afternoon Camp runs from 1pm–6pm. A typical day looks like 1pm–4pm: Golf camp activities, 4pm–6pm: Free play.
- Full-Day Camp runs from 7:30am–6pm. A typical day looks like 7:30am–9am: Free play, 9am–4pm: Golf camp activities, and 4pm–6pm: Free play.
- Ages 5–7, Half-Day Golf Camp, Available at one location, In half-day golf camp at First Tee — Hampton Roads in Virginia Beach, campers will learn golf and valuable life skills, have fun through creative games and make new friends.
- Ages 8–17, Full-Day Golf Camp, Available at 2 locations In full-day golf camp at First Tee — Hampton Roads in Virginia Beach (all summer) and Eagle Creek Golf Club in Moyock (August 1-5), campers will learn golf and valuable life skills, have fun through creative games and make new friends.
Outdoor Adventure Camp: Adaptive Camp – Adaptive Camp at the YMCA at JT’s Camp Grom in Virginia Beach is designed for campers ages 5 to 12 whose physical, social and emotional abilities require additional assistance when participating in camp activities. Adaptive camp is staffed with a 1:3 counselor to camper ratio. Prior to camp, we will meet with parents to plan a fun summer camp experience tailored to each camper’s needs and abilities. R
- Arts & Crafts
- Challenge Course
- Cable Water Sports
- Group Games
- Outdoor Education
- Sling Shots
- Splash Pad & Swimming