6 Ways to Ensure Your Summer Camper is a Happy Camper

1summer campby Julie Forslin, Early Learning Manager, Encompass

Summer has become a time to engage in learning opportunities—choosing the right summer camp from all the great options in the area can feel “in tents”! There are camps for children of all ages, abilities, personalities, schedules and interests—and I am going to share my 9 years of experience managing Encompass’ summer camps to guide you through the camp selection process.

For 15 years, Encompass has been the enrichment summer camp of choice for Snoqualmie Valley families. We offer more than 40 unique themes including: “Terrific Trains,” “Cooking up Science,” “LEGO Mayhem,” “Mud, Muck and Goo,” “Gymnastics” and “I Love a Parade.” Don’t miss out on your child’s favorite camp—register now—there are only 12 spots in each camp!

Let’s get started!

  1. Discover what is available in the area. Macaroni Kid has already created its 5th Annual Summer Camp Guide broken out into categories including art instruction, dance, music, theatre, gymnastics, learning & fun, nature experiences and sports instruction. There is a calendar view so you can match up your child’s interests and schedule to what is available.
  2. Create a short list. Gather recommendations from friends, neighbors and your child’s peers to understand the values, operating procedures and scheduling of each camp. Most camps are not a daycare solution.
  3. Identify the camp’s program emphasis. Enrichment-focused camps combine the fun of camp with academic and social skill building. These types of camps are designed to mitigate summer learning loss, review academic skills and accelerate learning. Other camps offer freedom to pick and choose activities. At Encompass, we want to make camp a fun and memorable learning experience for your child, while remembering that it is summer and they need time to play and have fun with their friends.
  4. Know the staff-to-child ratio. Your child should be well supervised and get lots of attention at camp. For day camps, these are the average staff-to-child ratios: 1:8 for campers 6 to 8 years old, 1:10 for those 9-14 and 1:12 for campers in the 15-18 age range. Special needs camps would have a much lower staff-to-child ratio. One of the reasons Encompass has been voted Most Loved Summer Camp is our very low staff-to-child ratio of 6:1 in 4-10 year olds olds and 4:1 in two year olds.
  5. Inquire about the camp staff. Who works with your child is critical to your child’s camp experience. In addition to facilitating camp activities, counselors serve as role models and should be dependable, trustworthy and show enthusiasm for their role. Encompass’ own preschool teachers lead all camps except golf, gymnastics and drama—whose teachers are contracted professionals from these fields in the community. All lead teachers are first aid/CPR certified. We hire college and high school students to act as camp assistants and role models for the campers. One of our current preschool teachers started as a summer camper herself, was hired as a camp assistant as a teen and went on to teach preschool and summer camps.
  6. Can the camp accommodate special needs? If your child has special needs, either physical or behavioral, be sure to ask if the camp is equipped to handle these special requirements for your child. Encompass offers camps to children with all abilities and can make accommodations if necessary for all children to participate.

I hope this has helped you begin your adventure in choosing the right summer camp for your family! We are very excited about starting our 15th year of offering amazing fun-filled camps at Encompass and we have some great new options this year as well as some old favorites.

Summer at Encompass
A variety of theme-based, enrichment-focused summer camps are offered at Encompass for children from 2- to 10-years old. Our drop-off camps are a week long (or 3 days for 2-year olds) for a half day—or you can blend a morning and afternoon camp for a full-day experience!

Special Needs & Camp Assistant Programs
Champ Camp is an Encompass program designed to meet the needs of children who can benefit from structured teaching to help strengthen their social language and behavioral skills*. For older campers, we offer our 11-13 year old teacher assistant program—this is a great opportunity to gain leadership experience by working with younger students and there is the possibility that these students can become paid assistants in the future.

40+ Unique Camp Themes!
New camps this year include “Penguins to Polar Bears”, “Monsters Inc.” and “Mini Olympics”   . We added a second “LEGO” camp as well as a “Superheroes” and “Mythbuster” camp. And the always-popular “I Love a Parade”, “Spy Kids” and “Amazing Artists” camps are back! Each camp includes teacher-planned, age-appropriate, theme-based craft and activities. Encompass prepares healthy snacks daily for all campers and activities take place in both our beautiful outdoor and indoor learning environments.

Download the full schedule, camp descriptions and fees.

I am looking forward to seeing returning campers as well as meeting new campers and their families to welcome them to the fun that is Encompass summer camps.


Julie Forslin is the Director of Early Learning at Encompass. This is her 9th year as manager of Encompass summer camps, 3rd year as Early Learning Manager and she taught camp for 4 years. She also has 14 years’ experience as a preschool teacher. Contact Julie at 425.888.2777 with your questions about Encompass summer camp. Register at encompassnw.org.

*application required

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Preventing Injuries in the Young Athlete

youth-baseball

By Nicole Demetrescu

Injuries in sports, especially overuse injuries, are common following periods of rest, and for many children the start of springtime sports is a prime time to get hurt. Strength imbalances (where the muscle on one side of the joint is stronger than the muscle on the other side), poor flexibility, poor core control (where the tummy and hip muscles aren’t strong enough to help the body move properly) and body alignment (e.g. flat feet, knock-knees, etc.) also contribute.

Here are some ways you can help your child prepare for the upcoming season and reduce their chances of becoming injured during play:

1)      Get a pre-season physical exam. Also consider consulting with a sports medicine professional or physical therapist to establish a conditioning program specific to your child’s body and sport;

2)      Make sure your child’s protective equipment (helmet, shin guards, shoes/cleats, knee pads, mouthguard) fit properly and are in good working order;

3)      Make sure your child warms-up and cools-down with each practice/game for 5-10 minutes. If their coach doesn’t build this into the routine, do it yourself;

4)      Know the signs of a concussion and watch for them if your child has a collision or bump;

5)      In general, increasing activity by 10% each week is appropriate, but not more;

6)      Stay hydrated! By the time a child is thirsty, they’re already behind;

7)      Eat properly and get enough sleep. Rest between sessions. The body requires time to adapt to activity in order to perform efficiently;

8)      Listen to your child – if they tell you they are in pain, listen! Get them evaluated and don’t let them return to play until cleared by a medical professional. (Minor injuries often improve after 2-3 days of rest. If your child’s does not, contact your physician);

9)      Don’t encourage your child to “catch up” with training following an injury – this can result in even greater injury by not allowing the body adequate time to heal, recover and adapt;

10)   Cross-train. Allow children opportunities to use their bodies in ways other than required for their sport. Swimmers can go for jogs, soccer players can play tennis and football players can go for a swim!

11)   Consider letting your child take one season off/year, especially if they play only one sport. This prevents over-training, reduces the risk of overuse injuries and prevents burn-out.

Once the season begins, your most important jobs are to support your athlete’s effort on the field and to listen to them. Do not encourage them to play through pain, and get them evaluated when they are injured before you let them return to play.

For more information on preventing injuries in young athletes, including sport-specific recommendations, visit “STOP Sports Injuries: Keeping Kids in the Game for Life” at www.STOPSportsInjuries.org.

Executive Function Skill Development at Encompass

ef gamesEncompass strives to be on the cutting edge when it comes to research related to early childhood development, so imagine my excitement when we were invited to participate in a state-wide research study on the development and role of executive function skills in young children.

Executive function is the brain’s “air traffic control system”, which allows us to manage multiple streams of information at the same time, control impulses and revise tasks as necessary. It is believed that acquiring the early building blocks of these skills is critical to school readiness and social development through middle childhood, adolescence, and into early adult life.
The opportunity to participate in this research study arose when we were contacted by both the Department of Early Learning and the University of Minnesota and were asked to research executive function and how it relates to the education of children. Encompass was one of five organizations in Washington state to be selected to participate in the pilot program known as “Executive Function Learning Communities” and to educate its staff on the concept. Participants included Encompass preschool teachers, Parent-Child Interactive Therapy coaches, and pediatric therapists. Over a 15-week period, our staff learned how to build awareness and knowledge of executive function, and explored how to support executive function in anef community early learning setting.

What science has discovered is that executive function skills can be taught and that the brain is still developing and is “plastic” so-to-speak until one reaches 25-30 years old. Through the “Executive Function Learning Communities” program, Encompass staff learned tactics to identify which children were facing executive function challenges and provided them strategies to combat those challenges.
Our partnership with the University of Minnesota was designed to support a research study that measures children’s executive function. It involved the uses of deliberate teaching skills (working memory, mental flexibility, inhibitory control) through a series of games and activities designed to increase those skills.

One way we measured executive function in the classroom setting was by playing a memory card game. Unlike a basic memory game where children simply need to remember card placement (working memory), we challenged them by changing the rules of the game along the way (mental flexibility) and introduced a spinner to challenge their ability to wait their turn (inhibitory control).
Although the instructional has come to an end, our staff leaves with a new awareness and knowledge of executive function to take with them into their different areas of specialty. All Encompass staff will have access to the learning materials used during the study, which will support them in building executive function in young children.
The University of Washington plans to conduct an evaluation of this project and the “Executive Function Learning Community” leaders, like myself, will meet at the end of March to discuss our findings and the plan to introduce these methods in other communities throughout the state of Washington.

As a parent educator, I believe knowledge of executive function should not be limited to child educators but should be shared with parents, too. I’m excited to offer an Executive Function Workshop at Virginia Mason in Issaquah on Thursday, May 1, 2014. I hope many of you can join us to learn about this important topic and how it relates to your child’s education, school readiness and social development.

Kerry Beymer, Encompass Parent Education and Support Manager

 kerry.beymer@encompassnw.org