happy camer 2015Summer has become a time to engage in learning opportunities—choosing the right summer camp from all the great options in the area can feel “in tents”! There are camps for children of all ages, abilities, personalities, schedules and interests—and I am going to share my 10 years of experience managing Encompass’ summer camps to guide you through the camp selection process.

For 15+ years, Encompass has been the enrichment summer camp of choice for Snoqualmie Valley families. We offer more than 40 unique themes including: Masters of Disaster, Super Seahawks, Happily Ever After, Birds/Bugs/Bunnies, Firefighters’ Academy and many more. We open registration on March 23 at www.goencompassnw.org!

Let’s get started!

  1. Discover what is available in the area. Macaroni Kid has already created its 6thAnnual Summer Camp Guide broken out into categories including art instruction, dance, music, theater, gymnastics, learning & fun, nature experiences and sports instruction.
  2. Create a short list. Gather recommendations from friends, neighbors and your child’s peers to understand the values, operating procedures and scheduling of each camp. Most camps are not a daycare solution.
  3. Identify the camp’s program emphasis. Enrichment-focused camps combine the fun of camp with academic and social skill building. These types of camps are designed to mitigate summer learning loss, review academic skills and accelerate learning. Other camps offer freedom to pick and choose activities. At Encompass, we want to make camp a fun and memorable learning experience for your child, while remembering that it is summer and they need time to play and have fun with their friends.
  4. Know the staff-to-child ratio. Your child should be well supervised and get lots of attention at camp. For day camps, these are the average staff-to-child ratios: 1:8 for campers 6 to 8 years old, 1:10 for those 9-14 and 1:12 for campers in the 15-18 age range. Special needs camps would have a much lower staff-to-child ratio. One of the reasons Encompass has been voted Most Loved Summer Camp is our very low child-to-staff ratio of 6:1 in 4-7 year olds olds and 4:1 in two year olds.
  5. Inquire about the camp staff. Who works with your child is critical to your child’s camp experience. In addition to facilitating camp activities, counselors serve as role models and should be dependable, trustworthy and show enthusiasm for their role. Encompass’ own preschool teachers camps except if we offer something like golf, gymnastics and drama—those teachers are contracted professionals from these fields in the community. All lead teachers are first aid/CPR certified. We hire college and high school students to act as camp assistants and role models for the campers. One of our current preschool teachers, Miss Hannah, started as a summer camper herself, was hired as a camp assistant as a teen and went on to teach preschool and summer camps.
  6. Can the camp accommodate special needs? If your child has special needs, either physical or behavioral, be sure to ask if the camp is equipped to handle these special requirements for your child. Encompass can make accommodations if necessary for all children to participate.

I hope this has helped you begin your adventure in choosing the right summer camp for your family! We are very excited about starting our 16th year of offering amazing fun-filled camps at Encompass and we have some great new options this year as well as some old favorites.

Summer at EncompassA variety of theme-based, enrichment-focused summer camps are offered at Encompass for children from 2- to 7-years old. Our drop-off camps are a week long (or 3 days for 2-year olds) for a half day—or you can blend a morning and afternoon camp for a full-day experience!

Camp Assistant ProgramFor older campers, we offer our 11-13 year old teacher assistant program—this is a great opportunity to gain leadership experience by working with younger students and there is the possibility that these students can become paid assistants in the future.

40+ Unique Camp Themes!New camps this year include Super Seahawks, Happily Ever After, Natural Creations, Maters of Disaster and more . We added a second “LEGO” camp and will have the always-popular LEGO, art and water-themed camps. See the entire list. Each camp includes teacher-planned, age-appropriate, theme-based craft and activities. Encompass prepares healthy snacks daily for all campers and activities take place in both our beautiful outdoor and indoor learning environments.

I am looking forward to seeing returning campers as well as meeting new campers and their families to welcome them to the fun that is Encompass summer camps.

Julie Forslin is the Director of Early Learning at Encompass. This is her 10th year as manager of Encompass summer camps, 3rd year as Early Learning Manager and she taught camp for 4 years. She also has 14 years’ experience as a preschool teacher. Contact Julie at 425.888.2777 with your questions about Encompass summer camp. Register at www.goencompassnw.org after March 23.

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