Why to sign up for camp early

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"Campers taking a break from canoeing to post for a photo at YMCA Camp Pinewood in Twin Lake, Mi." Photo courtesy of YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago

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Camp registration may not be the first thing on your New Year’s resolutions list. However, you have loads of reasons to enroll your child now — and it’s not just to secure a spot.

Get discounts and special requests accommodated.

Niki Papak, camp director at Banner Day Camp in Lake Forest: “Banner offers savings for enrolling early, and we take grouping requests. Signing up early also helps to ensure that we can accommodate these requests.”

Laura Gallagher, superintendent of recreation at Park District of La Grange: “Registration starts Feb. 1, 2014, for our camps. Register in February or March for any half day or full day camp and receive an early bird discount of 10 percent off the fee.”

Have time to read the fine print.

Heidi Mabie, associate program director at Camp Anokijig in Plymouth, Wis.: “The beginnings of a positive camp experience start with a smooth registration process. Parents: Pay attention to dates and details. When you get the packet of information confirming your child’s registration, look at it! If your child arrives at camp without having all the required paperwork on file, they may not be allowed to attend, or their space may have been given to someone else who does have all the paperwork turned in.”

Get your kid comfy with the idea of leaving for camp.

Kim Kiser, vice president of YMCA Metropolitan Chicago: “While the snow is flying, parents are not thinking, ‘Now’s the time.’ Parents are just jammed. We have parents call the night before, and you do the best you can to accommodate them, because availability is booked solid at that point. The earlier you sign up, the better you can help prepare them for the going away experience and being independent.”

Mabie of Camp Anokijig: “Choosing a summer camp should be a joint decision between parent and child. Involving the child in this process gives them a sense of ownership and also makes them feel that their opinion matters. Sit down together, research, ask questions. Figure out each other’s goals. Is it to learn a new skill? Spend some time away from home? Make new friends? Challenge yourself?”

Start building the parent-camp relationship.

Kiser of YMCA Metropolitan Chicago: “At least shopping [for camps] now gives you time to start the parent-director relationship. The majority of parents really need to get to know the director, staff, facilities and program. If you start doing that now, you’ll have time to shop correctly. By the time your child comes here, your child will not already be comfortable, but you’ll be comfortable.”

Gallagher of Park District of La Grange: “We offer a camp parent night as well on Wednesday, June 4th from 7-8pm at the Recreation Center for campers and parents to meet the counselors and get to know what the camp is all about.”

Have time to reconsider.

Papak of Banner Day Camp: “If you begin to feel like your camper isn’t ready for camp or they need to take summer school, I would encourage parents to call and discuss it with the camp directors. Very often, we are able to make suggestions and help make the transition easier.

For more information ­­—

Banner Day Camp:

Park District of La Grange:

Camp Anokijig:

YMCA Summer Camps: