One of the common misconceptions about summer camp is that it’s a place – that you send your child off to summer camp. Summer camp is a community, built by professional educators together with the children they supervise. Within that community, children learn to make decisions and take healthy risks in a safe environment. Summer camp is not about where a child is; it’s what happens when they’re there that can be so life changing.

Kids learn best through experience, and summer camp is one of the best hands-on learning opportunities available to them: developing social skills, playing both formal and informal games, experiencing a natural setting, navigating group dynamics and learning more about themselves physically and emotionally. At camp, there’s no teaching to a test, and every minute doesn’t have to be scheduled. There’s time for teachable moments and exploration.

CampAssociation2That time, however fleeting, has a lasting impact on campers. Many people find that the most critical people in their lives were those they befriended at summer camp.

Summer camp has never been more necessary. Academic and after-school commitments add so much pressure to a child’s life, and often take choices out of their hands. Time spent at summer camp allows kids to decompress and be themselves.

There’s a common misconception that children are sent away by their rejoicing parents to summer camp, where someone else will do the work of supervising them. That’s simply not the case. Many parents choose to let their children experience summer camp because they know of the value it gives and the genuine joy it can inspire. Camp contributes to the development of a child’s independence, responsibility, and life skills. It supplements a child’s education — and, for many kids who find school difficult, it can offer them a new venue where they might thrive and embrace learning. It allows them to try new things and enjoy favorite activities, all while creating lasting memories and lifetime friendships.

What better gift could you give your children than an experience that offers all that?

The American Camp Association, New England helps families find day and overnight camp options in that are the right fit.

Visit to use an online camp search tool called Find A Camp, which allows people to explore camp options according to their key search criteria. Search by miles radius around a zip code or location, by specialty interest, by camp type, by session length or by particular dates.

Get a results page that enables families to go straight to camp websites and explore. Families will also find representatives or Find A Camp postcards at the camp fairs happening all over New England this winter; families frequently contact our office for tailored camp search pointers or answers to specific questions.

Our work to support camps and camp professionals focuses on education and best practices in the field. This March in New Hampshire we will host the largest professional conference in New England for those who own, work at or run camp in any capacity — as directors, counselors or staff members or board members. We focus year-round on assisting camps pursue excellence during the camp season. Four hundred-plus day and overnight camps in New England display the ACA Accredited camp logo.

ACA New England’s Camp Champions initiative, which is in its third year, raises and provides funds to make summer camp experiences possible for children from families that are low-income, at-risk or otherwise traditionally excluded.

For more information visit,, or call 781-541-6080.


Bette Bussel is the executive director of the American Camp Association, New England.