20 Children’s Books About Summer Camp

There are so many great books about camp that it’s hard to choose just a few, so here are twenty books that are great for kids who are about to go to summer camp or to bring along to read before bed or on a rainy day. Even if your kids aren’t going to camp, these book featured by Western MA mom, Lisa Woods, are all fantastic summer stories!

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Maker Camp Makes Camp Come to You

Virtual camp brings a world of learning to kids in their own homes!

Held on weekdays from July 6th-August 14th, Maker Camp offers a new theme each week and, in addition to daily project tutorials, each week’s theme includes a virtual field trip or two.

This summer, Google and Make: are offering hands-on kids and teens an alternative to the traditional summer camp. Instead of following the typical camp structure that involves trails in the woods, friendship bracelet crafts, and canoe lessons, Maker Camp is totally web-based, and engages kids in creative and educational DIY activities in their own homes – and best of all, it’s completely free!

Offering six weeks worth of programming, the 2015 Maker Camp is filled with activities and virtual field trips that match the interests and abilities of an incredibly wide range of learners. Held on weekdays from July 6th-August 14th, Maker Camp offers a new theme each week and, in addition to daily project tutorials, each week’s theme includes a virtual field trip or two. Check the Maker Camp schedule for these weekly themes.
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Summer Planning!

Nothing Beats Planning for the Summer!

Even though it feels like spring has only just arrived, now is the time to begin planning for summer! By considering options for summer camps, making lists of day trip destinations, and researching campsites to reserve, families can ensure maximum adventure and learning throughout the summer months!

Though spring’s very first fingers of green have just begun to poke their tips out of the ground, summer is going to be upon us before we know it! For families, springtime can be filled with excitement and renewed enthusiasm for outdoor adventures, and alongside spring sports or the busy-ness of the end of the traditional school year, spring can slip away into summer before we know it. With summertime less than two months away, now is the time for families to begin thinking about summer adventures and summer schedules. What kinds of learning experiences do you hope for your children to have? Where would you like to visit? What new things would you like to try? How much time will you have together as a family?

In order to plan for the summer months, families should take into account the adventures and learning opportunities afforded by the multitudes of local summer camp opportunities, as well as the camping and day trip destinations located within a few hours’ drive of anywhere in western Massachusetts. In the words of “Hindsight Parenting” author Logan Fisher, nothing beats planning for the summer! Read the rest of this entry »

Just My Type: Summer Camp with Type 1 Diabetes

Camped Out in the Parking Lot

My husband and I spent the last two weeks sitting in our cars for six hours a day. That’s right, just sitting. Not driving. Sitting. In the parking lot of Lenox Memorial Middle-High School while my daughter, Noelle, was at Shakespeare & Company’s Riotous Youth summer theater camp.

Yes, it was as exciting as it sounds.

As I have mentioned in previous columns, Noelle’s type 1 diabetes presents an extra challenge in the summer: whether or not to let her go to any camps. After all, many camp facilities don’t employ full-time nurses who could help Noelle manage the disease, and even if they did, the learning curve on managing Noelle and her specific needs and brand of insulin pump, etc., would take more time than the week or two of camp. So what’s a parent to do?…

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Homesick and Happy at Summer Camp

Homesick and Kidsick

I have a confession. I never liked the term “homesickness.” Missing your family and the comforts of home is normal. Our families are our safe haven. Of course being away from loved ones will feel different. It will never be “home.” Our children should learn that there will be many places in their lives that can feel “close to home” where there are friends and adults who will take care of them and respect them. This is so important to helping them become independent. So what does that mean for camp? How can you prepare your child and yourself?…

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5 Ways to Prepare Your Child For Summer Camp

Preparing Your Child For Summer Camp

Camp is just around the corner and there’s a lot to prepare. Whether it’s your 5 year old’s first time at day camp or your 14 year old’s 6th summer away, you want your child’s camp experience to be fun and successful. But you’re the parent and you’re not at camp, what can you do? The answer is lots!  Here are five ways you can help prepare your child(ren) for summer camp: Read the rest of this entry »

Food Allergies & Summer Camp

Can Your Child with Food Allergies Go to Summer Camp?

If you’re the parent of a child with food allergies, I’m betting that you prepare all of her meals. You do this so that you know her meals will be safe. Class trips, sleepovers and parties make you very nervous, right? And summer camp, well, that’s never been possible… But what if it was?!

Summer camp is an opportunity for independence and growth. Whether you go to a local day camp or an overnight program, it’s a time when kids can be carefree and indulge in laughs and friends. I promise that your child can have this too. Summer camps are in the business of keeping up with kids and supporting families. They are well aware that there are an increasing number of children with food allergies. You’ll find many places that will work hard to listen to your needs and to prepare your child’s food safely.

To ensure the program is right for you and your child, make a list of requirements and questions…  Read the rest of this entry »

Protected: 2013 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA (Archived)

Local Camp Director Gives Pointers on How to Select a Summer Camp

Thinking About Camp?
Questions for the Camp Director.

If you’re thinking about summer camp, there’s a wide range right here in Western MA to match everyone’s interests, schedules and budgets. As a seasoned Camp Director and parent, I believe that talking with the Camp Director is key to feeling comfortable with your decision. When first time parents call me, they often admit that they don’t know what to ask. So I wanted to give you questions that will help you make the best choice for your child…

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Summer Camp with Berkshire Lyric’s Blafield Children’s Chorus

Berkshire Lyric Offers Free Children’s Summer Camps in August, 2012

Berkshire Lyric will again host two separate weeks of The Blafield Children’s Chorus Summer Choral Camp in Dalton, starting August 6, and in Stockbridge, starting August 13. These free and intensive music camps are an opportunity for all local children ages 6 through 13 to sing, learn about music and have fun with the Blafield Children’s Chorus as they look forward to the 2012-2013 season.

Berkshire Lyric’s Blafield Children’s Chorus is offering kids a chance to learn about music and singing at free week-long camps this August!  Two different camps will be offered, both open to kids ages 6-13. Lead by Berkshire Lyric’s artistic director, Jack Brown, the camps are intensive, but offer kids a unique opportunity to learn about classical voice performance.

Attending the camp can be a great way for kids to explore their interest in music, and can help them (literally)  find their voices – by the end of the camp, kids will have gained useful knowledge about reading and performing music.  The first camp takes place from August 6-10 in Dalton, and the second from August 13-17 in Stockbridge.  For more information or to register, call 413-298-5365.

About Berkshire Lyric

Berkshire Lyric has been a fixture in the Berkshire musical landscape for 49 years. Berkshire Lyric started as a lyric theatre performance group and has since grown to be the only multi-generational performance and educational group in the Berkshires, providing scholarships, tuition-free education, and quality performance opportunities to Berkshire residents of all ages. As a non-profit, federally tax exempt charitable organization, Berkshire Lyric is supported in part by grants from local Massachusetts Cultural Councils, local corporations and gifts from individual contributors.  For further information on Berkshire Lyric, visit them online at www.berkshirelyricinfo.org.

Q&A: Family Summer Camps in New England


One of our readers is looking for family summer camp recommendations in New England. They are looking for an opportunity for the whole family to participate in together. Any suggestions?

  • Kate McCarthy Roy recommends:Camp Jewell YMCA family camp in CT…supposed to be great!”
  • Carolyn Toll Oppenheim recommends: “‎World Fellowship Center (NH) is one place. There is another newer one in Vermont.”
  • Jill Nowak Wheat recommends:Pinewoods Music & Dance Camp has a family week in Plymouth, MA.”
  • Laura Lucchesi recommends: “Thinking about this I have to say when my kids were young one of the best places we went to was Blue Water Manor on Lake George (NY)! It has one price to include your meals. Activities , history, Adirondack fresh air, and of course the lake. You can take their row boats out or rent a motor boat. They have great adult entertainment in their lake side stone tavern. And family camp fires. The list goes on. You can find them on their website. I promise you will love the whole area and it’s history. Shopping and fun in the sun! – Another thing we did was rent a trailer and went to a great campground in Rhode Island. Woke up everyday on the ocean. Cooked outdoors went fishing and our camp ground was loaded with family activities. We clammed and fished and cooked on an open fire!”
  • Katryna Nields recommends: “The Nields are running a family music camp week at Kripalu (Lenox, MA) the week of July 4th. It will be super fun. Lots of singing in harmony, a little making of our own instruments, a fabulous trip to Tanglewood to see and hear James Taylor on the 4th. Oh yes, and fireworks too!”
  • Tonya Lemos recommends: “Becket-‎Chimney Corners YMCA in Becket MA run several Family Camps and Family Weekends that are a blast!”
  • Swansea Benham Bleicher recommends:Maine Fiddle Camp if they are musical. Multi-generational, great food, all outdoors, many instruments, swimming in the afternoons.”

Check out the Hilltown Families Summer Camp & Program resource page for additional summer camp opportunities for kids in Western MA.

Protected: 2012 Summer Camps and Programs in Western MA (Archived)

Summer Camp ❥ Valley Gems

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser Banner

Note 3: Summer Camps ‘Round the Valley

Biocitizen of Westhampton, MA takes day campers around the Pioneer Valley to explore the five ecoregions of the Nonotuck biome.

I can most certainly argue that one of the best things summer has to offer both kids and adults is time to do nothing much at all (even get, gasp, bored). Without a smidgen of contradiction, I can also argue in favor of the summer camp experience.

Around here, there are some gems.

Around now—July, in its ripe berry fullness—I am feeling the love for those gems, even if I don’t have current campers in every one of them. This is a short, entirely empirical list of some favorites.

❥ From for the youngest to for the oldest, I have an abundant number of warm (also, sticky) memories of picking my eldest boys up at the Montessori School’s summer preschool program with its expansive yard, toys on neat trays in the classrooms, and muddy grass by the wading pools. That new people adored my small kids (when I was a relatively new parent) gave me warm (not sticky) feelings.

This summer, none of my kids is attending Marion Abrams’ Summer Art in Hatfield—known to many as the Art Barn. Think chatty knitting circle punctuated by chase games at snack or lunchtime, the chance to make art all the day long with more emphasis on process than product. And tuck this story into your back pocket: one afternoon my second guy came home and I asked, Lucien, did you cut your hair? “Yes,” he answered, “to use as a paintbrush. Erin didn’t think her mom would like her to cut her hair so I cut some for me and some for her, too.” There’s a retro sense of freedom here few camps can claim.

Click on the banner to discover more summer camps & programs happening throughout the region!

Remy spent a week as a Biocitizen, a tiny camp in which the cohort goes exploring—high in the hills, low in the Meadows, off to the Peace Pagoda, or on the river—and while scampering across rocks (and other things like that some parents would rather not think about too much) learn about the local terrain. Once home and rehydrated, Remy would ask, “Did you know…?” every single afternoon.

For the tween-to-teen set there is DASAC (or, Deerfield Academy Summer Arts Camp), which is a friendly, creative community for young people and as close to overnight camp as day camp gets. Three weeks long, with ideas and hugs up the yin-yang and songs and inside jokes and just… bliss. That this camp was dreamed up in a Hampshire College dorm room makes it only the sweeter and that kids from all over the Valley meet here, well, icing on the cake. People started to tell us our eldest would love DASAC starting when he was still in preschool. Indeed, he did (now the second one is loving it).

❥ The chance to change it up offers unexpected discoveries. Remy, playing tennis with the Northampton recreation department befriended a boy (similar level player, similar age) from Europe. Quoting my eight year-old: “We both love devil sticks.” I’m so glad the school year is still a ways off.


Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Sarah is a writer, who lives in Northampton with her husband and four children. She contributes to Preview Massachusetts Magazine, as well as other publications and writes a parenting blog Standing in the Shadows at the Valley Advocate. She moved to the Valley to attend Hampshire College—and found the Valley such a nice place, she stayed!

Protected: 2011 Summer Camps and Programs in the Hilltowns of Western MA (Archived)

Food Allergies and Summer Camp

Food Allergies and Summer Camp
By Hilltown Families Guest Writer, Karen A. Jordan

Summer camp tip: Check EpiPen expiration dates, label each EpiPen with your child's name, and bring enough for each counselor and the nurse. (Photo credit: Stusic)

It’s that time of year again…the final countdown of school days, warmer weather, and plans for summer camp. As a parent with a child with a severe peanut allergy, I am quite familiar with the tension, nervousness, and tremendous preparation that come with preparing for summer camp.

Last year my daughter, who was 9 at the time, spent her first week at sleep away camp. The preparation began as soon as I registered her. I called and spoke with the camp director and food service director to talk about food options and ways to keep her safe. The drop off day for summer camp was crazy, to say the least. Lines of parents and children, talking to counselors that were young (according to my standards!). First up: cabin assignment. Walked over to her cabin and met with the counselor. She was a wonderful college-age girl who already had EpiPen training, but I reviewed with her the procedure. One EpiPen would stay with her, and one would stay with nurse. I went over with her the emergency action plan and the phone numbers to call if needed. Then off to the nurse’s station. Dropped off EpiPen with her along with another copy of the emergency action plan and phone numbers to call. Whew! I was emotionally and physically drained! Swim test, setting up her bunk and last goodbyes.

Some tips for parents who are sending their child to camp, whether it be day camp or overnight camp:

  • Check EpiPen expiration dates and make sure child’s name is labeled on each EpiPen, since the contents of a two-pack may be split up. And make sure you bring enough – find out how many counselors there will be, so each one can carry one, as cabin may be split up into smaller groups. And don’t forget the nurse! And, it may be wise if your child is old enough, to have him/her carry their own EpiPen with them from activity to activity.
  • Send in a hearty supply of “safe” snacks for camp store times. Even if some of the food there is safe for him/her to eat, it may be a bit hectic during these times, making it confusing for label reading. Also, there are the issues of children opening their snacks right in front of your child, immediately exposing them to allergens.
  • Dining Hall: Label reading is a must! One person in kitchen should be responsible for reading labels on the food and help make safe meals for your child. I had met with food service director the week before camp and went over menu with him to help reduce exposure to peanut products. We read labels on all products and determined what foods would be safe for her. We also followed the same plan as her school, where her table would be a peanut free table and no peanut butter would be served in the kitchen.
  • Reminded your child that she needs to read labels, wash her hands frequently, and to not eat food if she doesn’t know the ingredients.

The staff at these camps are all willing to work with you to help make your child’s visit to the camp a safe, happy experience. The best advice is to plan ahead as much as possible and to make sure that you have your cell phone with you at all times in case of an emergency or even if the staff has a question for you. I can’t tell you how many times I have received a call and my heart has skipped a beat to soon find out that they just wanted to read a label to me over the phone!

Like This!


Karen Schneyer Jordan

Karen lives in Lenox Dale, MA with her two children, Katie, age 10, and Christopher, age 6. She has severe allergies to several foods, including tree nuts, fish, and shellfish.  Her daughter is allergic to peanuts. Her son was allergic to soy for 2 years and eventually outgrew it.  Karen started finding out more about food allergies when her daughter, who was two at the time, had her first anaphylactic reaction. Years of research and networking, as well as utilizing skills learned during her work experience in human resources and employee training, led Karen to branch out on her own as Berkshire Food Allergy Consulting Services. Now she spend most of her time working on training and development as well as support for those living with food allergies.

The Wilds of Camp

Six Weeks of Camp

The zip line was the biggest draw of all at camp. (Photo credit: Dana Pilson)

Daisy was hesitant on the first day. Arriving amidst a flock of parents and excited children, we were directed to the girl’s barn to drop off her things. Daisy was thrilled to find her name above a hook. She put her backpack on the bench and hung up her bathing suit and towel. I slathered her with sunscreen as she looked around and we read the names of the other girls who’d be coming that week. Thankfully, we already knew many of them. We then went outside and saw a boisterous group of boys chasing after one of the counselors, a long-legged good-natured teenager. A cluster of little girls were in the arts and crafts barn with another counselor, unspooling yards and yards of ‘gimp,’ — which I remember calling ‘lanyard.’ I excitedly rattled off the names of some of the stitches I knew: barrel, box, cobra, butterfly. Daisy picked out pink and purple. Trailing the strands behind her like an octopus, she went outside and finally found her best friend, Kira. They ran to each other and hugged as if it had been years, and not just since yesterday since they’d last seen each other. I gave Daisy one last big hug, took a commemorative photo, and was on my way.

It was hard, leaving my only child, to the wilds of camp. It was different than dropping her off at school, which was so predictable, so controlled. The playgrounds at school seemed so safe, the teachers so vigilant in comparison to this big, wide-open camp. Here, the kids roamed about not always under the watchful eyes of the counselors. There was so much more freedom and independence, a good thing, I knew deep-down. Yet I worried about poison ivy and heat-stroke, bears, drowning, bee stings and Daisy getting lost in the woods. I worried about all the possible things that could take my precious only away from me. But I took a deep breath, and let go. There was nothing else I could do. Lonely in my car, I drove down the hill, not even turning on the radio.

That afternoon at pick-up, Daisy excitedly announced that she wanted to go to this camp every year until she could come back as a counselor. And when she was grown up she wanted to send her kids to camp, too. Before heading home, she had to show me everything: the pond they swam in, the frog pond where they netted tadpoles, the tree under which they’d had nachos and cheese for snack, and where they ate lunch (the camp Golden Retriever snagged half of her pizza bagel, she traded the other half to one of the counselors for handful of Oreos), the blueberry bushes growing behind the house, the rope swing, and the biggest draw of them all: the zip line.  Read the rest of this entry »

Path of the Otter Summer Program

Path of the Otter Program in Ashfield

(c) Hilltown Families - Path of the Otter ProgramPath of the Otter will be offering a summer program in the hilltowns for children ages 5-7. This program is a playful introduction to earth awareness, nature exploration and naturalist and wilderness living skills. Kids participating will:

  • Learn to recognize, identify and follow animal signs
  • Learn to listen for and understand birds and bird language
  • Be introduced to exploration and survival skills
  • Learn to identify plants and their uses and hazards
  • To develop their senses
  • To be engaged in imaginative play
  • To listen to and tell stories(c) Hilltown Families - Path of the Otter Program

The summer program will be in Ashfield, MA on Tuesday in July & August from 9am-3pm. Dates include:

  • July 8, 15, 22, & 29, 2008
  • August 6, 13, 20, & 27, 2008

  • And be sure to check out their monthly program (May 17th & June 7th from 10am-1pm)

My daughter loved the Path of the Otter fall program. She enjoyed learning how to make a shelter with sticks and leaves, and she keeps talking about Rona’s fire making demonstration. This program is highly recommended for young, budding naturalists!

– Sienna Wildfield, Hilltown Families


Path of the Otter is an Earthwork Program ($$) and will be led by Rona Leventhal. Rona is an educator, storyteller and performer who weaves her skills together to engage children in the wonders of the natural world.


For more information, directions or to register call Frank Grindrod at (413) 522-0338, or email frank@earthworkprograms.com.

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