How to Prepare Your Child (and yourself) for Sleepaway Camp

bus.jpg It’s time to send your precious child away… to overnight camp. You did the tours, you found the perfect camp for your kid and now it’s the final countdown. Before you know it, you will be kissing your child goodbye and putting him or her on a bus or a plane off to have the time of their life! There is so much you have to do to prepare- physically, mentally and emotionally.
By now, the trunks should be mostly packed and ready with all the items neatly labeled with your child’s name inside. But just in case you are still working on getting everything together, here are some great tips from Jill Tipograph, the summer camp expert, straight from her book, Your Everything Summer Guide & Planner:
• Stick to the lists that camps provide. If your child has a tendency to lose or damage clothes, you might want to add some extra necessities like socks, underwear, towels and eyeglasses – but DO NOT OVERPACK.
• “Containerize” smaller items. Put similar things together in see-through travel bags, zip-locks or plastic units. Bunk storage can be very limited so consider packing collapsible baskets for bulky items (check with camp policies first).
• Put stationery/stamps/mail in large plastic envelopes or in a clipboard with a storage compartment; you’ll want to read letters again or in years to come, as your kids mature.
• Send nothing expensive with your child. Pricey mp3 players, cameras (if you do, you need to remove all video capabilities) or other devices may break or disappear – and many camps do not allow electronics at all. (Especially in Maine, where your child really has a chance to be “unplugged.”)
It’s not easy to just let your kids go, both figuratively and literally. But parents need to trust their decision that they picked the right camp and feel confident their child will feel right at home. After speaking with a few Maine Summer Camp Directors, they wholeheartedly agree. They are in the business of making children happy! The Maine Camp Experience is a community of premier American Camp Association accredited Maine camps that are dedicated to providing children with the highest quality summer camp experiences. They offer a very safe and nurturing environment where kids will gain independence and self confidence, make lifelong friends, learn new skills and most importantly – have fun! That is what parents need to hold on to as they feel the butterflies in their stomachs; you don’t want to pass along that nervousness to your child.
Not only are you busily preparing for the big departure, the camps are very busy as well! As an example, Camp Matoaka in Maine has their 22 department heads come up to camp a month before the campers arrive for extensive training. The rest of the staff then joins them for twelve days of training. They receive CPR, Red Cross certification, water safety, ropes safety, bunk management, etc. They have a parent panel come up to the camp to discuss what they want and don’t want for their children. They even have a company called “true to life training” where professional actors come and act out true scenarios with the staff in each age group. But one of the best things they do to get ready is receiving pictures of each of the campers from the parents and they memorize what they look like and their names. So when the new campers get off the bus they are greeted, by name, and welcomed to the camp. All of this goes on at many of the camps in Maine.
There are plenty of things you can do to get your son or daughter emotionally prepared for camp. Some camp directors will even make a visit to all the new camper’s homes to get to know them and answer any questions. Other camps have get-togethers in each community so your child will have some familiar faces when they first arrive. A few of the Maine camps I spoke with will set each new child up with a camp sister/brother or buddy that will reach out to them before the start of camp and tell them all about the amazing experience they are about to have!
If your child is still feeling really nervous and unsure, it may be a good idea to have them write a list of all the things they are excited about for the summer and what they are looking forward to the most. They can also make a list of things they are scared about and they will see how many more things are on the positive list! That should make the parent feel better too.
Richard Deering from Camp Birch Rock in Maine said it perfectly. The best thing the parents can do is let their kids “clip on their wings and fly.”
To find out more about Maine Summer Camps and to enter to win an unforgettable family vacation at Migis Hotels (the quintessential Maine hotel properties) – and how to save money on this summer’s stay – visit the Maine Camp Experience website today.

Angela Lansbury Interview: Mr. Poppers Penguins

Role Mommy west coast contributor Kristin Flannery got the chance to chat with Angela Lansbury, a legend with a brand new role….
MrPopperStill4.jpgIn Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Angela Lansbury stars as Mrs. Van Gundy, the owner of Tavern On The Green, which Mr. Poppers (Jim Carrey) needs to acquire in order for him to become partner at his real estate firm.
We sat down with Angela to discuss how she saw Mrs. Van Gundy’s role – villain or hero? “Oh, I think she’s a hero. I think she’s got all the right stuff. She’s a tough old bird, but nevertheless she gives him his due when the time comes. She just demands certain levels of behavior. I thought she was kind of wonderful, because of the fact that she obviously had never, never left the 1950s, and that was her time. But, she was a very worthwhile woman, certainly capable of doing all of the things that rich widows do in New York City.”
A pivotal scene in the film takes place when Mr. Poppers tries to show Mrs. Van Gundy what a stand up guy he is until the penguins show up. What was it like working with all those penguins? Angela fills us in on the magic of movie making, “Well, what was it like with the penguins?” Well, they weren’t there. You do know that. They weren’t there. So, we were just pretending that they were there, because that was at the Guggenheim Museum with priceless art all over the walls, and although it had all been pushed aside, you understand. But, that whole thing where the water comes whooshing down, it was a wonderful special effect because certainly that wasn’t the way it was. I don’t know how they did that. That was the miracle of special effects.”
Since the character of Mrs. Van Gundy did not exist in the original book, Angela discussed how she envisioned the character, “Well, I was kind of coerced into doing it, quite frankly because I didn’t think there was really a place for me in it in the first place. But, as it kind of growed like Topsy, it suddenly became an interesting character. And when it became a woman who had a warmth buried under all those layers of, I thought, “Well, yes, I can do something with this.” And also, working with Jim was a tremendous lure for me, because I love working with great artists and he is one of those. He’s very special.”
Since filming has constantly changed during Angela’s long career, we were curious if the directors are more willing to let you offer your interpretation or vision now than they were back during the storyboarding days. Angela replied, “I think so, yes. Yes, certainly. Yes. Although there’s not much room for that, because these days you’re always working on a schedule, a time schedule which is cut and dry because every minute costs. And if you’re shooting in a very famous gallery like the Guggenheim in New York and you have eight hours of night shooting to manage to shoot X number of shots, there isn’t much time for fooling around. And there’s no time to rehearse. That’s one of the drawbacks of movies, for my money, is you never really get to rehearse, because they can’t spend the time they have not putting it on film.”
Mr. Popper’s Penguins is currently playing in theaters nationwide. Check out the film’s website and their Facebook page for games, updates and more!

My 18 Inch Doll

18doll.jpg My seven year old daughter is obsessed with her American Girl Doll, Olivia. She talks to her, takes care of her, plays with her and dresses her up constantly. Olivia has a nice wardrobe… pajamas to sleep in, a soccer uniform and a gold sequin dress. But as my daughter commented, she is lacking some “everyday clothes”. Lucky for us the kind people at 18 Inch Doll sent us a wonderful outfit. They have very affordable furniture and clothing that fits American Girl Dolls, Madame Alexander, Our Generation and any other 18 inch brand doll. The company was started in 2007 by a mother whose mission was to educate her four daughters through imaginative play.
My daughter’s face lit up when I handed her the “Denim & Dots” 4-piece set on a little hanger. “Oh my gosh! SOOO cute!” Was her first reaction. She ran to get Olivia and put on her new everyday outfit. The shirt has Velcro all the way down the back so it was easy for her to get on. The skirt was a little tricky but she managed, and then the denim jacket and hat topped it off. She took one look at olivia and said “She’s just too adorable.”
You really need to check out My 18 Inch Doll and see for yourself all of their precious clothing and furniture including beds, sofas, trunks, armoires and more!
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