Summer camp 101: Starting your search

8:55 AM, Feb 24, 2014   |    comments
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DENVER - School is still in session, but it's already time to start thinking about how your kids are going to spend the summer. For many working parents, that means camp and most will tell you if you don't sign up by spring break, you're out of luck.

Laura Barr is the owner and founder of e.Merging, an educational consulting firm. After years of helping families find the right school, her business expanded to helping find the right summer camp.

For parents, who haven't started their summer camp search, she offered this advice:

Step one: "The very first thing is figuring out budget. Camps can range anywhere from $150 a week to $700 a week, depending on what kind of camps you are looking for."

Step two: Create a spreadsheet to figure out the weeks you need coverage and for which child.

Step three: Sit down with your children and ask them, "What do you want to do this summer?"

Step four: Figure out your priorities. "Just like we have hundreds of choices for school. We probably have double that for camp, so really hone in on your children's interests, your priorities, how much you can afford, how far you drive, and if you want your kids to all go to the same camp, " Barr said. "Siblings going together to camp can be a great thing especially if kids aren't together in school. I also think it's nice sometimes for them to have their own thing and their own space, so they can, again, create that identity of their own."

Step five: Most importantly, sign up on time. Most summer camp schedules are now posted.

If you need help paying for a particular camp, Barr recommended talking with the director to see what they offer. For example, some sports camps hold tryouts for scholarships.

Amber Johnson with Mile High Mamas says some of the most popular camps will either fill up in the next couple of weeks or have filled up already.

"Summer camps in Denver are kind of like the preschool crazy parents in New York," Johnson said with a smile. "People jump on the ball. By March and certainly by April, the top camps are sold out for sure."

Johnson suggests mixing it up and selecting several camps for your kids to spend their summer months.

"We usually do two to three camps. We like to mix it up," she said.

Johnson also shares some advice on how to know whether or not your child is ready for an overnight camp.

"Your confidence in the camp is two-fold: how well your child] will deal with separation, how well you think she'll adapt to it. Also your confidence in the camp," Johnson said.

Mile High Mamas created an A to Z list of summer camps in Colorado. To see the Colorado summer camp guide, visit:

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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