Preparing Your Kids for a Great Hamptons Summer Camp Experience

Summer camp banner on the beach
Image: iStock

It’s not too early to start preparing your kids for summer camp. There are any number of concerns and exciting feelings that you and your kids may have as the summer approaches, and it’s best to address them as early as possible! East End summer camp leaders are here to provide some tips and tricks for making sure your children are ready for the fun experience that awaits them.

Diversity bug catchers
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Aaron Goldschmidt of Shine Camps (
For kids, summer should be an opportunity for downtime. The school year is filled with so much pressure and stress that summer camp should be the complete opposite. The best preparation can be in trying to figure out what they want to do over the summer. Don’t assume your sports player wants a sports camp or that a large camp with a ton of kids is the right fit for your outgoing child. Ask and offer some options. Camp should be fun, social, and an opportunity to explore interests that may not be available during the school year. Mix it up and try new things!

Parents need to prepare by labeling everything. I mean everything from socks to water bottles to the outside of lunch boxes and everything in between. Things disappear or get misplaced very quickly during the summer. And it’s super-important to get kids in the habit of being in charge of a water bottle and self-hydrating. In many of the larger camps it’s common for there to be a lot of kids running around and it’s hard for the staff to monitor all the kids all the time. A sense of independence and responsibility is important for sleepaway camps and camps with a lot of kids, and those qualities should be fostered at home for all children, going to camp or not.

Group Of School Children Singing In Choir Together
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Josh Bracken of Westhampton Beach Performing
Arts Center (631-288-1500,

Fully involve your child in the camp prep process! At WHBPAC, we have a contract that campers sign with their parents. This provides a great opportunity for parents and children to discuss expectations and also generate excitement! Look over what’s needed for the week, and involve your child in the planning. Most importantly, lots of sleep the night before camp—butterflies are normal, and a good night’s sleep is key to combating nervous energy in the morning.

The best way to prepare kids for summer camp in the winter months is to make sure they feel excited! If your child has no interest in volleyball, don’t sign them up for a volleyball camp. Really listen to your child and choose a camp together. Otherwise, you’ll be getting that dreaded phone call on a Monday in July, two hours in! Also, it’s never too early to start preparing for camp, once you’ve chosen one. Our musical theater camps involve a fun audition on the first day—so to start combatting nerves now, we recommend that parents start talking about what makes a good audition—a loud clear voice, and lots of expression. If kids can start working toward what’s involved in camp now, they’ll feel so confident walking in on day one!

Young actors holding costume pieces smile and pose for the camera
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Allen O’Reilly of Bay Street Theater

Parents can rest assured that the great momentum built during the school year can be continued in a safe, fun and empowering theater camp. Summer is the time for students to keep the creative juices flowing. Even though school is out, camp is a great way to stay active mentally and physically, plus it’s usually a lot more fun! Camp is the time for a different kind of learning. And theater camps are fun, social and can build the kind of self-confidence that students can carry with them into the next school year!

Kids with their pony horses on dressage. Kids with their personal trainer learn horseback riding. Great recreation for kids age 4 to 7, before they get on the big horses.
Image: iStock

Christine Barrett-Distefano of Amaryllis Farm Equine
Rescue (631-537-7335,

I would recommend getting the movie Gypsy Colt with Ward Bond and a copy of the old TV series Fury, the Tribute Collection with Peter Graves and Bobby Diamond. Both are found on Amazon. This immersion will be very helpful as they both depict the relationship between horse and child properly. An exceptional animated movie, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron is a good movie to watch as well. Since we are an entry-level camp, no prior experience is needed.

Ukraine. Khmelnytsky region. May 2018. Man holds a gray lizard on his hand and shows it to children
Image: Volodymyr Muliar/123RF

Cara Fernandes of Quogue Wildlife Refuge

Parents can prepare their children for the Summer Ecology Program by encouraging an open-mindedness towards new experiences through outdoor exploration—otherwise, no prior knowledge is required! Because our Summer Ecology Program Camp includes hiking in the forest and other outdoor activities, we always recommend that children wear comfortable sneakers, sunscreen and bug spray if warranted for the day, and a good night’s sleep and breakfast so they are energized and excited for their experience.

Child feeding beautiful brown horse in a farm
Image: Petar Dojkic/123RF

Joanne Jimenez of Jimenez Jumpers

Make sure they are enrolled early and reserved in their child’s camp of choice. Fill out reservation forms and deposits. Some parents are also now enrolling their children in private riding lessons to better prepare their children for camp. They will have more of a sense of confidence if they already know the camp location, facility and have taken part in a lesson so they know what more to expect. I also hold an open house a couple of times so that parents and their children can come and visit, meet me and the horses. That normally gives them more peace of mind as well. Also helps them get excited and motivated for the summer camp.

Parents can make sure that their child will have all the appropriate camp attire and supplies for when camp begins. Also a camp survival kit…fly spray, tick block, sunscreen. Supply plenty of water and healthy snacks/lunch daily for camp.

boy sliding into base during a baseball game with instagram style filter
Image: Stuart Monk/123RF

Eddie McCarthy of Hamptons Baseball Camp

Parents can prepare their child by expressing the importance of making new friends, learning new skills, playing for fun, working with different coaches and improving their fitness. I also suggest that parents reinforce that attending camp results partly from making strong efforts and progress in their academics.

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