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    NPN's Summer Camp Fair reopens today! Register now to find summer camps still accepting campers! Our summer camp fair custom website opens at 9:00 am on Monday, May 3rd and closes at 5:00 pm on Friday, May 28th. >> Camp options for kids age 2 - 18 years old >> Search for camps based on theme, location, before and after care, virtual or in-person >> Access each camp's registration form with one click >> Watch short and informative video presentations from each camp director You must register here for access to the custom website. Parents who registered for NPN's Summer Camp Fair in February do not need to re-register. We will send you your login credentials to the custom website on May 3rd. Members: Free Non-members: $15 Includes an NPN membership which will be activated within 4 weeks of registration date Thank you to our sponsors, Kids' Work and Bennett Day Camp
  2. Believe it or not, now’s the time to start thinking about summer camps. Many have already opened up registration with early-bird discounts, while others don’t offer placement till spring...only to sell out in hours. We’ve pooled advice and information from our members and staff to help get you started. [Related: Preparing for your child's first overnight summer camp] How old does my child have to be to go to camp? Most camps cater to kids aged kindergarten and up, though there are many camps for preschoolers. The majority market to elementary and middle schoolers, with some reserved for high schoolers and college prep. What kinds of camps are out there? If you can imagine it, it probably exists. From sewing to STEM, cooking to circus arts, Chicago really does have it all — and they’re all over town. When are they? Most summer camps start the week after CPS lets out — for 2020, that’s June 22. Several camps around town — including Chicago Park District’s Day Camp — have multiple sessions throughout the summer. Camps are typically offered in week-long sessions, though some offer drop-in days (or even half-days), or a full-summer commitment. How much are they? The range is wide. Chicago Park District’s famously affordable Day Camp costs as little as a few dollars per hour, while others charge thousands. We know of a handful of camps that offer sliding-scale tuition, too. On average, though, most weeklong day camps fall in the $500 range. [Related: How to tell if a summer camp is a good fit for your child] Summer Camp 2019 parent reviews NPN members on our forum discuss which camps their kids liked (or didn't). Steve & Kate’s Camp “I have no idea WTH goes on in there, but she had fun even though she didn’t know anyone.” RetroActive Sports Camp, Menomonee Club “Seems very basic and takes place in a gym all day, so I don’t really get it, but the kids are wild for it.” Dream Big Performing Arts Camp “Their ‘performances’ are really cute — if a little chaotic.” Summer at Latin, Latin School of Chicago “Kids did all 7 weeks and loved it as always.” East Bank Club Summer Camp “Daily swimming, tons of gym time and specialty classes like tennis and soccer.” Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum Summer Camp “Between the family open houses and the email communication, I actually felt like I had a good idea what was going on.” Game On! Sports 4 Girls Camp “Learned a ton of sports and gained major self-confidence.” The Laboratory Collective Summer Camps “AMAZING! I’ve never heard my daughter talk about a camp so much.” Sew Crafty Studio Summer Camp “I’m always so impressed how they can learn in such little time." Read more summer camp parent reviews on our discussion forum.
  3. As a previous overnight summer camp director and parent - I know that kids and parents begin to experience a wide range of emotions leading up to their first overnight camping experience. Hopefully, the predominant feelings are those of excitement, but it’s also natural to be apprehensive and nervous. While it may be challenging to deal with these conflicting emotions, there are several things you can do to manage these emotions and set your child up for a successful and fun summer. Do a dry run. Fear of the unknown is one of the biggest worries for children attending camp, so time spent at home “practicing” a typical day at camp may provide some reassurance and self-confidence. For example, have your child practice some of their routines without your assistance, such as getting into pajamas, brushing teeth, or picking out clothes in the morning. Practice overnights away. If your child has not slept away from home before, the best thing you can do for them is to arrange sleepovers between now and the beginning of camp. These experiences will stimulate feelings of independence and give your child confidence that they can cope with longer separations from home. Talk about your communication plan with your child. Remind them that they may not have access to phones but that they will be able to write letters and that you will be sending them mail. Help them create an address book with everyone’s contact information so that they can keep in touch with family and friends. Packing pre-addressed, stamped envelopes is a great way to ensure that letters get sent! Keep familiar faces nearby. Help your child create a little photo album of some of their favorite photos to bring with them. They will be able to show their friends and counselors and tell them all about where they are from! Be realistic. Like the rest of life, camp will have high and low moments and your child may have some down moments. Your child should not feel pressured to feel a certain way at camp. Remind them that their main goal should be to have fun, and remind them that there will always be a counselor to talk to if they do ever feel sad. Avoid the “get out” clause. DO NOT make promises that imply that you will pick them up if they are sad or want to come home. These statements set your child up for failure and send a message that the only solution to a difficult feeling is to be rescued by you. It undermines your confidence in your child’s ability to cope with adversity. As you become anxious, try not to transmit that feeling to your child. Don’t emphasize the fact that you will miss them. Support words like “we will miss you so much” with “but we are so proud of you for trying this new experience.” Kids often internalize their parents’ anxiety and if your child is worried that you will be sad when they are gone, they may not be able to fully enjoy their experience.

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