Timeout New York Kids

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Summer camps for kids: Your questions answered by experts

Navigating the land of summer camps for kids isn’t easy, so we asked the experts for some help with frequently asked questions.

Illustration: Nicole Kenney


Q My kids are addicted to their electronic screens—should I let them take them to summer camp?
A
Do you really want that $500 iPad stuck in a backpack in a cubby (best-case scenario) or at the bottom of a chlorinated pool? Even if electronics are allowed on the way to camp, they’ll likely be off-limits once the kids get there. Plus, a good chunk of summertime social life takes place on the bus ride, points out Susie Lupert, so the kid sitting in the back playing Angry Birds might be missing out on some important bonding. Ultimately the decision is yours, but keep in mind that a little screen-time detox can be as invigorating as all that fresh air they’ll breathe.

Q There are so many specialized day camps in New York, focusing on robotics and skateboarding to ballet. Should I send my kid to one of those, or a general interest camp where you hike and make lanyards?
A
Some kids really need to cut loose in the summer, playing kickball, getting dirty and not learning a darn thing. Others love nothing more than sitting in front of a computer designing video games or staring at a chess board perfecting their opening moves. The great thing about New York City is that both options are abundantly available. Be sure to consider not only what your kid likes, but also what will make your life easier. If you work full-time and need two months of full-day coverage, a traditional camp where your child will settle into a summer-long routine is going to work best. On the other hand, if you’re looking to fill in a week here and there in between other family plans, then your kid can try her hand at anything from claymation (Children’s Museum of the Arts) to beginner fencing (Brooklyn Fencing Center) and skyscraper design (Center for Architecture Foundation).

Q I love the idea of a day camp outside the city, but how do the kids handle being on a bus for almost an hour each way?
A Most city kids walk to school and rarely ride in a car that isn’t yellow and black with a television in the back seat, so the idea of putting them on a 45-minute bus trip to the rolling green hills of Rockland County or Long Island can be daunting—no matter how tempting those tennis courts and horseback riding stables may be. Camps all try to make the most of the commute, making sure their buses are air-conditioned and stocked with water coolers and counselors who are willing to sing endless verses of “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall.” “But honestly,” says Laurel Barrie, “camp is so exhausting that the bus ride home is a great time for kids to nap!”

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