Summer Camp Experts Talk Learning, Having Fun and Making Memories

A multi-ethnic group of children, ages 5 to 12, in the park, having fun in summer camp. They are wearing colorful shirts, sitting together, watching something. Colorful balloons are behind them.
Photo: iStock

What is better for a child than having fun, learning and making great memories at the same time? Summer camp allows children to develop new skills in a unique and positive environment. Check out what these summer camp directors and owners have to say about their own camp memories and why they feel camp is an important and invaluable experience for a child.

What is your favorite summer camp memory from your own experience as a camper?

When I look back on my childhood, my most special memories are the many summers of pony camp that I was able to be part of. Many years later, and now that I run and operate my own lesson program and summer pony camp in Bridgehampton, I’m blessed to be able to recreate those amazing and fondest moments of pony camp I experienced when I was the camper.—Joanne Comber-Jimenez, Jimenez Jumpers

Growing up, I attended dance camp every summer from when I was a little girl all the way into high school. It was so much fun learning the details of choreography and watching it all come together when we finally performed in front of everyone’s families at the end of the summer. Practicing with my friends and being outside on those gorgeous summer days is something I will never forget. I am definitely not the greatest dancer in the world, but I loved it and there’s nothing better than being a child having fun and feeling really great about something you’ve worked hard on all summer and finally achieving that end goal.—Kristine Frailing, The New York Sewing Center

My favorite memories of camp are of the new trips we went on each week. I looked forward to those trips, and even now when I take my own children on trips to fun places I can remember the excitement I felt as a camper.—Chany Konikov, Camp Gan Israel Southampton

My favorite camp experience was as a 12-year-old in Maine. I attended a basketball camp and was nervous to be away from home. My counselors were welcoming and supportive, and I met other campers who became instant friends. I played the sport I love, I learned from coaches I admired in a new place with newly made friends…it was my first true camp experience and an unforgettable one to say the least. I went from a nervous, shy start to the week, to having the best week of my summer.—Sean Johnson, Future Stars Southampton

My two older brothers and I attended the same sports camp together through our childhood. The lasting memories are the action-packed days filled with laughter, camaraderie and mostly friendly competition. The weekly highlight was Barbecue Friday, presided over by our engaging, witty, revered and always-present director, Mr. Horsey, wearing his Wayfarer shades, Stan Smiths, Bermuda shorts and IZOD with popped collar.—Eddie McCarthy, Hamptons Baseball Camp

As a child I went to summer camp every year. I always loved it! It was basically the thing to do during the summer months. It’s where summer social life happened. I remember loving the feeling of being friends with the counselors. The camp I went to had the best head lifeguard/swim instructor. He was so much fun and all the campers loved him. This upcoming summer, my daughter—almost three!—will be going to the same camp, and the same head lifeguard is still there! He said this will be his first second-generation camper. I am so excited for her to have the same experiences there that I had, with some of the same people.—Lulu Keszler, Innovators Camp Bridgehampton

Why is it important that kids go to summer camp?

Summer camp has the power to be transformative for a child. At camp, children discover talents they never knew they had, as they are encouraged to try new things for the first time. Campers make lifelong friendships and learn new social skills in a warm and nurturing environment.—Chany Konikov, Camp Gan Israel Southampton

Summer camp is important for kids of all ages and skill levels. It gives them an opportunity to emotionally and socially connect with peers in a setting that is not necessarily classroom-based. Giving young campers the chance to improve their skills while having fun and interacting with a group is a hugely beneficial experience developmentally. The camp setting goes beyond the realm of the specific sport/activity they participate in and touches on leadership, responsibility and the many character traits that help to shape our youth as they learn and grow.—Sean Johnson, Future Stars Southampton

I believe that discovering individual talents and hobbies at an early age is extremely important for personal development. It helps to bring out an individual’s creativity at a young age and can be extremely rewarding later in life. The best part, however, is just developing new friendships that may last a lifetime!—Kristine Frailing, New York Sewing Center

Summer camp offers children a departure from academic learning to engage in experiential learning in subjects, skills and sports where there’s an emerging interest or precocious talent. It’s also great place for children to make new friends while pursuing the childhood pastime of seeing how much fun can be packed in to one summer.—Eddie McCarthy, Hamptons Baseball Camp

Children who ride and have interest in horses always look forward to the summer months and participating in pony camp. The life lessons, equine skills, friendships and bond with the ponies are unparalleled to anything I’ve ever witnessed. In this day and age of technology and everything at such a fast pace, it’s so nice for children to be “kids” again and enjoy life at the barn and being around horses. From grooming to bathing the horses, riding to learning to set up jump courses, to tacking up and cleaning the tack afterwards, these acts of responsibility will stay with the children forever. The world of horses is very empowering! It’s so rewarding and gratifying for me to be given the opportunity to teach this to my students.—Joanne Comber-Jimenez, Jimenez Jumpers

Visit our Summer Camp Guide for a list of local camps, as well as more helpful articles about choosing the right camp and more.

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