I Love My Kid — That’s Why I Send Him Away For the Summer


“I could never,” the stranger in line in front of me at Target exclaimed with her hand clenched against her chest.

Moments earlier, she overheard me on the phone asking my 10-year-old son how many tubes of sunscreen he went through last Summer and if he needed a new fan this year. She asked where we were headed, which, based on the overflowing nature of my shopping cart, I understood. I laughed, telling her it wasn’t “we” — it was “he.” He was going to sleepaway camp for the Summer and I was trying to get a head start on packing. That, of course, led to questions about how long and where and why. To which I answered, seven weeks, five hours away, and because we love him and want him to experience all that camp has to offer.

That’s when she made her comment. I decided it wasn’t worth any more discussion — I had my reasons and didn’t need to explain them to a stranger — but it did get me thinking. Why do we ship our children away for the Summer?

Both my husband and I went away to camp when we were kids, me for four weeks each Summer and him for eight. Ask us, or really any other kid who did so, and they’ll probably tell you those were the happiest days of their childhoods. We can still sing the songs, tell color war stories until your ears fall off, recall first crushes . . . and first kisses, and remember the distinct smell of the dining hall and the slimy bottoms of the lakes.

What we didn’t realize at the time was everything else we learned. We learned independence. We learned to care for ourselves. Yes, there were counselors there overseeing everything, but we really did learn how to handle so much on our own. Without parents there, we learned to make new friends. We put ourselves out there and tried new activities and new foods. We learned a bit about ourselves without even realizing it.

These are the lessons I want my sons to learn — once both are old enough to go (my youngest is still too young). Being away from home is a time to learn about yourself outside of the comforts and security of home. It’s a time to learn to bask in the uncertainty of what comes next or who will be sleeping in the bed next to you. In this age of connectivity, where there’s always a phone, computer, or tablet in sight, it’s a forced break from that. My son’s camp does not allow any electronics and I couldn’t be more grateful. Camp is a time to re-create the carefree days of childhood that my kids’ grandparents — and even their great-grandparents — experienced all those years ago. As city dwellers, it’s also a chance for my kids to experience nature — not at a museum or a park surrounded by buildings, but nature in its natural state.

And, let’s be frank here: it’s always a great break for us, the parents. The hustle and bustle of the school year is exhausting. And by the time the Summer rolls around, we could all use a break from each other. Yes, I spend half my day scrolling through the photos the camp posts for any sign that my child is happy, sad, or really just clean! But the time apart proves that absence does make the heart grow fonder.

Last year, my oldest went off to camp for the first time. He didn’t know a soul. He sat on the bus with a boy he had met a few minutes earlier and a few days later I got a letter from him that he was loving it. He had already gone camping, canoeing, and water skiing — three things he’d never done in his life. He was playing street hockey and tennis and eating s’mores each night. And the kid I had to drag out of bed each morning for school had joined a Polar Bear club where they jump in the lake first thing every morning. In the matter of three days, he was already making memories. Five weeks later, he was begging us to extend his Summer to the full seven weeks away. We told him we thought he’d had enough for his first Summer, but would gladly do it for the next. Right now, he’s counting down the days on his calendar.

In shipping my kid away for the Summer, I’m giving him something special, whether he knows it or not right now. Just a few weeks ago, we were having one of our frequent arguments about something trivial. He suddenly blurted out that the reason I send him to camp is to “get rid of him for the Summer.” And while in that moment it may have rung true, I told him that wasn’t the case at all — that camp is hardly punishment; it’s a privilege and he’s very lucky to be able to go, that I would never spend the money I do on a camp if it was punishment.

So while the woman in line at Target may never understand why we send our kid to camp, I can think of a thousand reasons. But the best reason is that we’re doing it for him. There’s a saying the campers like to say: “We live 10 months for two.” I can’t think of a better sentiment.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Rebecca Gruber


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Home in a Hundred 2017

On Friday March 17th, the countdown to camp officially reached 100 days. To celebrate, we launched a photo competition that saw many of our campers send us pictures of themselves wearing their favorite camp gear to school. Everyone who submitted a picture was entered into a prize drawing to win a limited edition camp sweatshirt.

Our campers were really creative with this competition and we received so many awesome pictures! We had campers wearing their red chippies, sweatshirts, shorts, socks, sweatbands and even face paint in the camp colors.

The prize drawing took place on Friday March 24th and was drawn by our Camp Director, Michael Baer with the winners posted to Facebook and Instagram.

Congratulations to Shayna and thank you for showing us your camp spirit. We will be presenting Shayna with a limited edition sweatshirt at camp.

We would like to thank everyone who took part in our #HomeInAHundred competition and wore their camp gear to school. You all looked awesome! Below is a collection of some of the entries we received.

It is great to see that our campers are excited and counting down the days until we are all together again…Home at Silver Lake!

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Camper Highlight: Kids That Do Good by Max and Jake K.


There are many traits that our amazing campers have, but being kind to one another is one of the most important.

Did you see our Chipinaw campers, Max and Jake Klein on the Today Show on Monday, November 29th? The twins starred in the #ShareKindness program, a regular feature on the Today Show. This program aims to recognize those individuals that go above and beyond to share kindness to others, no matter how big or small the deed may be. Max and Jake have founded a charity organization called KidsThatDoGood.com, that allows young people to help out in their local communities through fund raising and awareness projects. Recently they helped collect 191 meals for the Thanksgiving holiday. Max and Jake have done an amazing job and we would like to wish them luck for the continued success of their project. #KindnessIsCool

You can watch the Today Show segment featuring Max and Jake below.

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Halloween Costume Contest WINNERS

halloween-winner-sl-lower halloween-winner-sl-upper

Happy Halloween! Congratulations to Josh who has won our Halloween Drawing Competition in the Silver Lake Upper Camp category with hisChippie the Bear from Space Jam” and Nikki who has won in the Lower Camp category. Nikki hit a home run with her costume design “Chippie the Bear wins World Series. We will be presenting Josh  and Nikki with the Limited Edition clipboards and stationary sets at the beginning of camp. Thank you to everyone who took part in the competition, your costume designs were awesome! 

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Halloween Costume Contest: Design Chippie’s Costume


Chippie the Bear needs your help! He just can’t decide what costume to wear this year for Halloween. Enter our Halloween Drawing Competition and you will be entered into our prize draw to win a LIMITED EDITION clipboard and stationery set.

Download a Chippie the Bear template and instructions and design, draw, and color in the costume that you would like him to wear for Halloween this year! Is he going to be a Super Hero, Witch, Haunted Ghost, Pirate or your favorite TV Character!?


Everyone who emails a picture and uploads to Instagram using #CostumeForChippie will be entered into the prize draw. A Winner for Lower Camp (1st-6th grade) and Upper Camp (7th-11th grade) will be announced on Halloween.

Email your picture to fun@silverlakecamp.com and follow us on Instagram – @silverlakecamp2004

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Phone-Sick At Camp: The Benefits of Screen Free Time

Attending summer camp for many children is a major step toward independence while still having fun and making life long friends. Spending time in a phone-free camp encourages kids to make decisions on their own without parent advice. However, breaking away from phones and the constant contact is just as hard for parents as is it for children. A recent NY Times article, Phone-Sick At Camp, discusses the need for a phone-free summer at camp plus provides advice for parents on how to prepare for the summer.

At Camps Chipinaw and Silver Lake we believe a screen-free summer helps our campers develop soft skills they don’t get to develop at school. They practice independence, teamwork, communication and problem solving face-to-face rather than through a phone.

You can read a portion of the NY Times article below.

Kids are on their phones in school, in restaurants, on vacations and even in bed. For many, sleepaway camp remains one of the last oases, largely untouched by technology. “Camp is a sacred space to unplug and be able to learn independence and social skills,” Dr. Uhls said. “It’s really important to put devices down and practice the art of face-to-face communication.”

Putting down the phone can be hard for the parents too, who are often anxious about separating from their children and are used to constant check-ins, whether they are in the next state or the next room.

With this constant communication, children seek their parents’ guidance and emotional support even when they are not together, leaving fewer opportunities to develop their own confidence and internal compass for decision-making. Wendy Mogel, a clinical psychologist and the author of the parenting book “The Blessing of a Skinned Knee,” tells the story of a college student at a salad bar who texted her mother to ask if she liked ranch dressing, rather than testing it herself. Such dependent relationships can rob children of the chance to trust and believe in someone else besides their parents. Creating bonds with others is one of the most important benefits of camp, and it is more likely to happen without the electronic connection to home.

To prepare to detach for camp, Dr. Thurber recommends families try one tech-free day per week over the month before camp, with no recreational screen time. “It’s good to practice some withholding from real-time digital communication and learn to not reflexively reach for cellphones,” he said.

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100 Days Till Camp Competition: #HomeInAHundred

On Friday March 18th, the countdown to camp officially reached 100 days. To celebrate, we launched a photo competition that saw many of our campers send us pictures of themselves wearing their favorite camp gear to school. Everyone who submitted a picture was entered into a prize drawing to win a limited edition camp sweatshirt.

Our campers were really creative with this competition and we received so many awesome pictures! We had campers wearing their red chippies, sweatshirts, shorts, socks, sweatbands and even face paint in the camp colors.

The prize drawing took place on Wednesday March 23rd and was drawn by our Camp Director, Michael Baer with the winners posted to Facebook and Instagram.

Congratulations to Maeve and thank you for showing us your camp spirit. We will be presenting Maeve with the limited edition sweatshirt at the beginning of camp.

We would like to thank everyone who took part in our #HomeInAHundred competition and wore their camp gear to school. You all looked awesome! Below is a collection of all of the entries we received.

It is great to see that our campers are excited and counting down the days until we are all together again…Home on the shores of Silver Lake!

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The 4-3-7 At Silver Lake: The Choice is Yours

Children and families benefit so much from the one-of-a-kind experience at Silver Lake. From the large variety of activities for campers to choose from to the hands-on support of our staff, Silver Lake is unlike any other! Our unique environment allows campers to explore the benefits of larger facilities while maintaining a close-knit community that nurtures your child’s aspirations, skills and independence.

To accommodate all families and campers, Silver Lake offers three summer camp sessions to choose from. The first session last for 4 weeks, the next session for 3 weeks and the last session is simply the combination of both sessions for a total of 7 weeks.

4 Weeks
Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 11.02.44 AMKick off the summer with 4 weeks of exploring the outdoors, making new friends, learning new skills and enjoying the sun out on the lake!

Our first session is the ultimate summer experience packed into 4 weeks of fun, friends and adventure. It’s a great way for your child to start the summer in a positive, uplifting way. The 4-week program includes all of your children’s favorite summer activities and special events like a day trip to an amusement park, Visiting Day, Color War and SO much more!

3 Weeks
If you are looking for a shorter summer camp experience complete with all the same Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 11.02.32 AMincredible events and activities, the 3-week program is a great fit for you!

Our 3-week program takes all the amazing camp activities, events and experiences you’d find at a full-summer camp and action-packs them into a shorter session. In three weeks your child will enjoy a variety of camp activities and events, plus a few unique to only to this session. Some of the activities include Carnival, College Bowl competition and the All-Star show.

7 Weeks
Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 11.03.00 AMAre you ready for the summer of a lifetime? Make this year one to remember during our full 7-week program!

Our last option combines the first two sessions to give your child the full summer camp experience. During the 7-week program campers have the opportunity to explore all the events, trips and activities that interest them. The full session allows campers to truly focus on their passions, make lifetime friendships and develop valuable skills.

What session will YOU attend this summer? The choice is yours!

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The Top 5 Things We Love About Summer Camp At Silver Lake

Nestled among the rolling hills of New York lies a magical place guaranteed to bring you the best summer of your life. Silver Lake provides its campers with a unique camping experience in which they are given access to over sixty activities from Surf Biking, to Globe-Walking. There are so many wonderful things that can be experienced through spending a summer at camp, but a summer at Silver Lake is one that will stay with you forever. Here are a few of the many things we love about summers at Silverlake!

1. The Endless Fun

     Let’s face it, a summer at Camp is one of the most unforgettable experiences you will ever have. Fancy a canoeing trip on the lake? From water skiing to horseback riding, there’s no end to the activities you can be apart of and skills you can learn at Silver Lake! Yes, the fun is endless, but you’re also surrounded by the best of friends, awesome camp traditions, and Silver Lake’s oh-so-silly counselors!

2. The Lasting Friendships

     The best things about spending a summer at Silver Lake are the friendships and memories you take with you. Through a few short weeks, strangers suddenly morph into friends that you know you will keep in touch with for the rest of your life. A camp friend knows your deepest, darkest secrets and your biggest hopes and dreams, and supports you no matter what. With a Silver Lake friend, you’ve ALWAYS got someone to lean on.

3. Being Outdoors All Day, Every Day

     The truth is, you aren’t doing summer camp right if you aren’t covered in dirt at the end of the day. A summer at Silver Lake is all about being outside, rain or shine, and doing absolutely everything in the beauty of nature. Who needs air conditioning when you can take a quick dunk in the lake? You’ll never forget those nights spent sleeping under the stars and you’ll always remember the times you got caught in the rain, but kept having fun. There’s really nothing quite like spending time in nature with your best friends by your side!

4. The Endless Dancing and Singing

     Summer Camps are typically known for their songs, but a summer spent at Silver Lake is guaranteed to have you dancing and singing everywhere you go. It’s pretty ordinary for the counselor sitting next to you to burst into song during lunchtime! And it really doesn’t matter where you go on the campgrounds, everyone is either singing camp songs or dancing around to some of your favorite summer tunes! With a ton of talent shows and dances, Silver Lake is the place to have fun, be loud, and get silly.


5. The Camp Desserts

     You know the feeling! You’re completely worn out after an exciting activity on the lake and the thought of a sugary dessert is making your stomach growl. And absolutely nothing sounds better than a sweet, refreshing mouthful of one of  Silver Lake’s many decadent desserts after a long, tiring afternoon. We love having our own on-site baker who whips out some amazing originals such as elephant ears and black & white cookies. Is your mouth watering just thinking about it?


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Thanks for Sending Me to Sleep-Away Camp, Mom and Dad

by Stefanie Blumer

We really wait 10 months for 2.

IMG_2851 IMG_2850Call me crazy for almost being in my 20’s and still being completely obsessed and in love with my summer camp. Like they say, there is no place like [a second] home. I understand camp isn’t for everyone, especially sleep-away, but honestly I cannot thank my parents enough for giving me this amazing opportunity and life changing experience.

Call me even crazier for telling you that sleep-away camp has taught me almost everything I need to know about surviving in the real world, but it’s true. I learned how to communicate with others, step out of my comfort zone and deal with unexpected situations almost immediately. Even though there was always someone by my side or to look up to, I learned how to become independent, which has truly prepared me for something as scary as going to college all the way across the country from where I live. Camp gave me the courage and confidence to do this, and without it I do not know where I would be.

When I spent my first summer away from home when I was just eight years old, I was scared out of my mind to leave my family. I knew I was going to a place with hundreds of unfamiliar faces for seven weeks. Yup, I am definitely crazy. I was mentally preparing myself for the first day, where I would meet nine other new girls that I would be living with and literally do everything together. There was always the possibility of feeling uncomfortable, which was extremely normal, but just after three days, I felt like I had known these girls forever. Instantly, they became not only my best friends, but my sisters.

What’s EXTREMELY crazy is I lived without texting and Facebook for two months every summer. You are probably thinking how is this possible? Honestly, it was so easy. It’s amazing how you actually have to talk to people face-to-face everyday without that light up screen as a distraction. Because of this, I learned what it was like to actually have fun and at the same time, make incredible friends that I am now able to call my brothers and sisters. (Sounds strange, but it’s really not)

Camp soon turned into an escape from reality. It was a place I became happy when I got sad, relaxed when I was stressed and care free from the million worries I had in the world. It was a place I could be myself, without ever feeling judged. When I got tired of hearing all the gossip run throughout the hallways at school, all I could think of was, “How many more days until camp?” If I didn’t have my camp to turn to, I’m not really sure if I would be the same person I am today.

While seven weeks, aka two months, seems like way too long to be away from home, it is truly not enough time. The bonds you make with the people around you are unexplainable and no one understands unless they have been to sleep-away camp. It has given me the best friends and the ones I will have for life. They are the people you seriously can’t get sick of. They are the people you truly cannot live without. And, they are the people that will give you everlasting memories.

Sorry to my home friends that never understood the withdrawal I went through when I returned home every August. I know you got tired of hearing my stories about how I lost color war or listening to the new lyrics I have to songs, but it’s the only thing that kept me going after being forced to leave my second home too soon.

Mom and Dad, you have no idea what you have done for me. You are the reason I have a second home, an escape from reality, friends to video chat with while I am supposed to be doing homework, people to go on vacation with and an endless list of memories I will always keep close to my heart. I know you had to work hard in order to give me this unforgettable and amazing experience, but I can promise you that every penny will always be worth it.

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