Ramping Up for Camps

Local groups get ready for weeks of fun this summer

Summer camp means different things to different people. For some, summer camp is a week in a cabin in the woods, complete with canoeing on the lake and toasting marshmallows around the campfire. For others, it’s a day camp to concentrate on improving athletic skills or learning how to sculpt or practice acting on stage. For still others, it’s a mishmash of fun: games and field trips, swimming and crafts, ropes courses and more.

For all summer campers, the chance to meet new friends and do something new spells fun. Now is the time that summer camps are getting organized and accepting registration for Summer 2021.

Christian Academy of Knoxville is gearing up with a wide range of summer camps. Many are athletic in nature, ranging from baseball and basketball to tennis and track. This summer a group of CAK rising seniors created a lacrosse camp for middle schoolers in the hopes of attracting more girls to the sport. Olivia Keller, Sydney Jewell and Julia Stauffer are organizing the lacrosse camp as their capstone project, the service project CAK upperclassmen are required to complete for graduation.

CAK also sponsors many special interest camps that range from musical theater to cooking. A new one on the list this year is a STEM camp for grades one through four, led by CAK teachers.

Julya Johnson, director of marketing and communications for CAK, says their camps’ motto is Faith Friends and Fun. Each camp incorporates Biblical values and prayer as part of its programming.

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So too do the programs at Long View Ranch in Mosheim, Tennessee, east of Knoxville near Morristown. Long View hosts weeklong residential camps as well as day camps on its 135 acres overlooking the Smoky Mountains, as it has since 1999.

A nonprofit run by an independent board of directors, Long View Ranch’s goal is to share the gospel of Jesus, says executive director Matthew Nasekos. He also says that, as a father of seven, his focus when hiring staff is on a person’s love of children, enthusiasm and willingness to have fun with them.

“Kids tell us it’s the best week of their summer. Some say it’s the best week of their life,” Nasekos says with a laugh. Activities include horseback riding, water skiing and tubing, canoeing, paintball, archery, woodshop, ropes courses and much more. Its name implies that in addition to the long view to the Smokies, the camp impacts participants for “the long view, for eternity,” he says.

Camps follow the health guidelines recommended by the state of Tennessee and the CDC, according to both Johnson and Nasekos. Last year, following COVID-19 guidelines, Long View campers “didn’t even have the first sniffle,” says Nasekos. “It was our healthiest summer in history.”

Knox-area camps are gearing up for the upcoming season, and most are accepting registration now. CAK camps can be found online at www.cakwarriors.com/student-life/summer-at-cak and Long View Ranch is at www.longviewranch.com.

Summer camps: A guide for parents

A summer camp experience can be fun and exciting for kids — and also helpful for busy parents by providing activities that are positive and productive while school isn’t in session. Here are some tips for choosing the right one(s) for your kids.

1. Is she ready for camp? Decide if your child is ready for camp — especially if you’re considering a residential experience — and really interested. Has she spent time away from home with friends or relatives? And done it comfortably? Most residential camps cater to kids age 7 or 8 and up. Day camps are available even for preschoolers.

2. Consider his interests and personality. What does your kid enjoy? Competitive sports or something creative? A structured environment or something with free time built in?

3. Talk to the camp director about any questions you may have. What’s the camper/counselor ratio, for instance? How is the camp dealing with COVID-19 restrictions? What kind of training does the staff receive?

4. Discuss the opportunity with your child. Be positive about the fun she’ll have and the things she’ll get to do. But don’t sweep away issues or concerns she may have. Try to put her mind at ease and emphasize the strengths and skills that she has going into the experience.

5. If possible, invite a friend of his to join him for the summer camp. It will ease any concerns about homesickness or not knowing anyone. If that’s not possible, be enthusiastic about all the new friends he’ll meet!

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