Sleepaway camp is a rite of passage for many kids. In many areas it’s something that’s common as kids get into the tween and teen years. This year for the first year our younger kids are setting off on a one week adventure at sleepaway camp. It’s as much an adventure for them as it is for me since it will be the first time they’ve been away from home without mom, dad, or their grandparents. They’re both a little thrilled and a little nervous. I’m mostly nervous, but then that’s generally my modus operandi.
Why Sleepaway Camp?
We’ve looked into the option a bit, but there have been two things that have held me back. I couldn’t find a camp that felt like a good fit for our kids who are admittedly a little left of normal (like their momma). But also most of the camps that came recommended by friends or that I found were a small fortune. I’m always trying to find ways to keep dollars in our pockets-so spending thousands for one week of camp wasn’t really going to fit with my frugal nature.
As the kids have gotten older we’ve explored and tried out a variety of options for summer. They’ve been to all day camps, half day camps, speciality camps, classes, and we’ve also taken advantage of pool time, play dates with friends who are too busy during the year, and more. It’s all in good fun, but it requires me to play camp director for the summer. It’s exhausting!
The advantage of sleepaway camp is that they’re doing something on their own. As tweens it’s time for them to start spreading their wings a bit and being more independent, but allowing them to do it in a place where they have support from counselors and other kids is going to be an amazing thing for them. Some of my favorite memories as a kid are times when I was on my own at camps, at our summer pool, or as I got older and attended academic and sports camps. The kids will have a full week to be more independent, learn skills they don’t already have (archery anyone?), make new friends, and mostly have fun.
It’s not because any camp would give this experience to them though. It’s only something I’m considering because we found the right place. Camp Stomping Ground sleepaway camp is different.
What Makes Stomping Ground So Different?
It’s pretty simple. Kids get to choose what they do every day. While there are planned activities and a schedule kids are given freedom to decide things like what time they wake up, when they go to bed (both within somewhat reasonable limits), and what they want to do each day. Outside of planned activities kids can choose to do something else with the help of counselors. Maybe they don’t feel like archery or playing soccer that morning, so they can get a small group together to go for a nature hike.
My own kids often amaze me with their interest in new things or ideas that are creative-so I love that Camp Stomping Ground enables them to share their ideas with others.
Camp Stomping Ground
Camp Stomping Ground is a brand new camp this year. They approached me about sharing with readers and offered to host the kids for camp. I was hesitant since we’re new to sleepaway camp, but I did some digging on their website, read about the camp directors, and emailed with questions. I agreed to try the camp out because when I pitched the idea to the younger kids they were SO excited, and I loved what I learned.
To be fair I know not every family can take advantage of the offer that was made to us, but that’s why I think it’s important to note two things before I talk about Camp Stomping Ground.
First, Camp Stomping Ground is affordable. They offer three pricing tiers. A week of sleepaway camp is $500, but that’s not the whole story.
More from their website:
- Tier 1: $250. This covers the cost of the room and board for the week with all other costs being subsidized.
- Tier 2: $500. This covers the cost of room, board, staffing, insurance, camp supplies, and camp promotion (our true per camper cost of starting this new program).
- Tier 3: $850. This covers all of our expenses to have your child come to camp for the week, and we guarantee that the additional payment will go toward bringing someone to camp who couldn’t otherwise afford to come.
This program is completely confidential and in no way affects the quality of the experience your child receives. You can choose the pricing tier that fits your budget.
That disclaimer at the bottom is one of the things I love about the camp. They’re out to make it an affordable option for anyone who wants to attend.
Even at $500 that’s cheaper than many HALF day camps in our local area, so it’s definitely on the affordable end. But also the value is incredibly high. What makes Stomping Ground so unique is their ability to take a traditional camp model and allow kids freedom to make choices within that structure. The autonomy and independence kids will experience at camp is going to be so empowering for them.
Second, as I always do when I share anything with readers I was clear that we will talk honestly about our experience. This is not a paid endorsement. This is an opportunity for my kids that I can offer, but it’s also a camp I likely would have paid for myself had they not offered–that’s how much I like what they’re offering.
I’m sharing this post as an introduction, and you’ll get a full report after camp, too. You can also follow along on my social media accounts (centsiblelife everywhere) to get see what we’re up to prepping for camp, photos of drop-off and more.
All About Camp Stomping Ground
Camp Stomping Ground is in their first year this summer. Camp runs from June 21st-June 27th this summer and is in New Jersey-not a long drive from the Philadelphia or NYC area.
Their motto is what gets me. They aim to hep kids “put happiness first.”
In a world that constantly tells kids they should be something different then who they are – Stomping Ground is a place that helps kids ages 6-15 learn to love themselves for who they really are.
What’s not to love about that?
The staff is also incredible. Five camp directors came together to create Camp Stomping Ground. They bring years of experience and insight to create something that’s new in the summer camp world-a camp that tosses out the schedule and in it’s place provides safety to explore whatever interests campers.
We met with Laura who is one of the camp directors at Stomping Ground several weeks ago to answer the million questions the kids have. We all clicked immediately. It was clear to me that Laura is incredibly passionate about camp, has a way of connecting with kids that’s wonderful, and has the experience needed (along with the other directors as well) to create this new camp.
Their core values at Camp Stomping Ground are:
- Autonomy: Autonomy isn’t encouraged in school or day-to-day life in general. By allowing kids freedom to be responsible while providing them with physical and emotional safety guidelines they will become more confident.
- Self-Concept: There is no pressure to be someone they aren’t. As they say “young people can begin to wrestle with who they want to be, instead of how they can change to be what other people want to be.”
- Community: Allowing kids of all ages and genders to work and play together allows kids to find other kids with similar interests, values, and ideas. While kids are in same gender bunks they are free to engage with each other throughout the day which the camp assures reduces teasing, bullying, and other negative behaviors.
Honestly I wish I could go to camp!
While I may be nervous about them going off on their own, I’m pretty sure that’s something every parent understands. It’s hard to let them go, but I have to trust them, and knowing they’re going to have such a unique and fun camp experience makes that a million times easier.