Planning for Summer Camp

Planning for Summer Camp

Local camp fairs help families navigate the maze of summer camp offerings.


The Kids4Peace Interfaith Summer Camp is aimed at helping to break down religious stereotypes.


Camp fairs, such as the Northern Virginia Camp & Summer Fun Expo, give families an opportunity to see the variety of summer camps available.


Face painting will be one of the activities available at the Northern Virginia Camp & Summer Fun Expo.

In an effort to confront religious intolerance, a group of local middle school students will attend a camp aimed at bringing together children from different religions and giving them the chance to come together, make new friendships, visit houses of worship, learn about other traditions and practice dialogue to confront Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism.

“Campers will get experiences in synagogues, mosques and churches,” said Shoshana Abrams of Kids4Peace. “They’ll see how others pray, how they celebrate and what they believe. It’s helping to break down stereotypes. A lot of interfaith action is needed to combat Islamophobia and bring together people of different faiths.”

"We want parents to know that there are many different camp options out there." — Jacky Dooly, Northern Virginia Camp & Summer Fun Expo

Kids4Peace’s Interfaith Day Camp is one of a diverse variety of summer camps available to local children. From performing arts, wilderness adventures and sports to language immersion, standardized test prep and community service, the summer offerings in the Washington region are plentiful. Though warm weather is months away, this is the time to start planning for camp and finding the best fit, say child development experts. “You want to include your child from the beginning of the process,” said Carolyn Lorente, Ph.D , professor of psychology at Northern Virginia Community College in Alexandria. “Explore options by following their interests. I like to ask kids ‘What problem would you like to solve?’ For instance, would they like to learn how to play basketball, how to make a rocket, how to see other galaxies, how to paint with acrylics, how to star in a play? These [questions] will point you in a direction that is good for both you and your child.”

Local camps fairs such as the Northern Virginia Camp & Summer Fun Expo, offer access to a variety of both day and overnight options in one location. “We want parents to know that there are many different options out there, and they’re going to find out all the specifics about many camps,” said Jacky Dooly, of Northern Virginia Camp & Summer Fun Expo and Washington Parent in Bethesda, Maryland. “There will be specific sports camps like swimming and martial arts. Maybe a child has academic issues and they need to get caught up. If so, there are academic programs.”

Before attending a camp fair, Dooly suggests that families prepare themselves, and there are questions that she recommends parents ask prospective camp officials. “Does the camp offer early morning care as well as later evening care?” she asks. “Find out information about the food that is offered at the camp. How much activity will your child get during the day? If you’re interested in a particular camp, find out if it fits within your budget.”

“I’d also want to know how they are going to keep your child safe, how they encourage participation, and the percentage of returning camp counselors and campers,” added Lorente. “If you have a camp with high return rates that indicates that it is a place where people want to be.”

Mandarin immersion, public speaking and science exploration are among the choices that will be available this summer at BASIS Independent Summer McLean. Noting that this will be the camp’s inaugural summer, Asha Bruot, spokeswoman for McLean BASIS, says that there will also be “a traditional day camp for students in first through fifth [grades] with thematically-linked activities, classroom projects, outdoor games, drama, music, and art.”

“Summer camp should be a place for your child to explore, play [and] become,” said Lorente. “The school year has become so structured. I would want a camp that has embedded in it time for child-directed exploration [and] free-time."

For More Information

2017 Camp & Summer Fun Expos

Sunday, Jan. 29: The Montgomery County Camp & Summer Fun Expo/Hilton Hotel & Executive Meeting Center/Rockville, Md.

Saturday & Sunday, Feb, 25-26: The Northern Virginia Camp & Summer Fun Expo/Dulles Town Center Mall, Dulles, VA.

Kids4Peace Camp:

Tips on Trips and Camps: 
Feb. 12, 1-3:30 p.m.
, Walt Whitman High School
, 7100 Whittier Blvd. Bethesda, Md., 301-881-0547 or