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Camp Connection: Adventures beckon

Explore what type of camp is best for your child

Summer is quickly approaching, which means a long vacation when schools let out. How can parents make these months stimulating, productive and fun?

Camps offer wonderful chances for children to explore interests, learn new things and discover their capacity for independence. There are many types of day camps as well as overnight camps, from music to sports camps or outdoor camps that include hiking and swimming and even horseback riding.

Perhaps the first thing to consider is whether you want a day camp or an overnight camp -- for a safe and happy experience for your child with minimum worry for you.

Overnight camps seem to provide the best memories -- and the best movies. They give children a taste of freedom and independence while parents know they are with responsible adults. They provide a break for everyone.

For an overnight camp, ask what kind of training the staff receives, the ratio of campers to staff members, about discipline policies, what a typical day is like, and how often the child will be able to contact home.

Ask yourself: Does your child feel comfortable sleeping away from home with friends or relatives? If a camp has a lot of water activities, is your child a good swimmer and comfortable in the water?

Day camps include academic offerings on every subject, from astronomy to robotics, arts, dance and drama. Adventure camps might include backpacking, biking and rock climbing. Check out the offerings in and around Pleasanton.

Technology camps include animation, computer programming, digital photograph, film production, and graphic, video game and website design.

There are also camps for children with special needs, a chance for them to be with their peers and enjoy activities geared just for them.

Involve your children when choosing a camp. Have a conversation with them about their interests and what they would like to explore. You might want to search online together for options, which should give you an idea of what they like and their level of enthusiasm.

If you're looking for more of a family experience this summer, put together an experience from the free things that are offered in and around Pleasanton, such as different park and museums. You can tour some places just by asking -- try contacting a veterinarian hospital, a grocery store or a baseball stadium for a behind-the-scenes tour.

The Pleasanton library is an excellent stop in the summer with its free programs for young readers. Libraries in nearby cities also offer educational and fun activities in the summertime.

Once your children are signed up for a camp, talk to them as it approaches about what they are feeling and what they expect. If it is an overnight camp, tell them you are confident they will do well away from home. And whether they are going off for a week or a day, be sure to label jackets, backpacks and anything you don't want them to lose.

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