Parents, children and teens looking to enroll in summer camps will have the opportunity to get information on over 40 programs next week as the Bucks County Camp Expo comes to Delaware Valley University on Jan. 21.
For many parents, that may seem too early to start thinking about summer camp, but according to organizers, it’s actually the best time.
“Sometimes parents don’t think about camps until the weather starts getting warm,” said Ellen Warren, coordinator for the Camp Expo. “The time you can get the best value and ensure the best placement is now. January to March is prime camp enrollment time.”
“If you don’t start until April, you might miss the boat.”
Some camps fill up early, others offer early registration discounts so parents can save money before the offers expire in spring.
According to research by the nonprofit American Camp Association, 31 percent of camps start signing kids up as early as the fall of the previous year, and January is the most popular month for registration.
Even for those not planning to sign up immediately, the event is an opportunity to meet camp directors and staff face-to-face and find the right program for your family.
As of last week, there were over 40 camps registered, accommodating an age range of 3 to 17. There are traditional day camps, sports camps, art camps, academic enrichment camps, nature programs, community service opportunities, faith-based camps and overnight camps in Pennsylvania and New England.
There will also be information on travel opportunities for teens. According to Warren, one of these camps travels the United States for outdoor exploration, and another goes all over the world, to places as far as New Zealand, Australia, Hawaii, Canada and Alaska.
The event is supposed to draw hundreds of Bucks County families. Warren recommends that parents who plan to attend bring their children along.
“It’s nice for parents to see how the directors interact with the children,” Warren said. “It gives them an idea about the camp’s leadership and philosophy.”
Even for those thinking about the future, too, it’s a good opportunity. Parents of younger children can think about what camps they might attend three or four years down the line.
Warren, a third-generation overnight camper, has even found out about camps and visited them during family vacation before her kids were the right age to attend them.
“It’s a good idea to think ahead,” she said. “If you’re taking a summer vacation and you’re going near one of these, it might be a good idea to check them out. The best time to visit a camp is when it’s in session.”
According to research referenced by the organizers, summer camp helps children build life skills such as independence, cooperation, communication, leadership and conflict resolution.
“That’s the whole reason we do this,” Warren said. ‘We want to help families give their children the gift of camp.” ••
The Bucks County Camp Expo will take place on Jan. 21 at Delaware Valley University Student Center, 700 E. Butler Ave. in Doylestown, from noon to 3 p.m. Admission is free. For information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit buckscampexpo.com.