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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Get outside and PLAY!

Kerry Beymer, parenting support and education manager

By Kerry Beymer, Parent Education Manager

I recently taught a class about exploring play and the importance of play in child development. We used to think play was important as a stress reliever for learning, but it is through play that children actually learn. So when you tell your kiddos, “Go outside and play,” you are encouraging the growth and development of social, emotional, physical and cognitive skills.

In my classes, I always ask parents if they remember being outside all day long as children and coming home when it was dark.  We had the “street light rule” when I was growing up. When the street light came on, we had to come back home.  As a mom, I can’t imagine my child being gone all day long without my knowing exactly where he is. Can you? Our world has changed, but the importance of playing and exploring your world has not. So what are we to do as parents?

Developed by Talaris, the Parenting Counts curriculum has helpful tips for moms and dads to encourage play:

Repetition may bore you, but not your child. Children learn by repeating. Let your child play the same game or play with the same toy over and over. They will move on when they are ready.

Make time for play! Many parents think they have to teach through lessons or classes. Often, the best learning takes place during play.

Get involved! Become part of their game rather than trying to lead the way. Let them make the rules.

Let your child take the lead. Playing works best when you respond to your children’s cues and follow their lead.

Let your child determine the pace of play. The best way to teach a new skill is to show your children how something works. Then, step back and give them a chance to try.

Don’t force or prolong play. When your child is tired of an activity, it’s time to move on.

Consider safety. Help your children understand any safety rules for play, and make sure they are supervised. Nothing ruins a good play environment faster than a child getting hurt.

Make an area safe for children to play. Move small or breakable objects out of reach and take safety precautions. When you child-proof an area, you give your child permission to move and play freely.

We know there are many benefits to letting children play and explore their world, but current research suggests that over the past 20 years children have lost 12 hours of free time a week, including eight hours of unstructured play and outdoor activities. (Hofferth,S.L. 1999)

In the last decade, we have seen a change in how our children play. Their time has focused more on academics, with an emphasis on organized sports and other structured, out-of-home activities. We cannot dismiss how television and computers, in the name of entertainment, have sapped kids’ play and creativity.

My kids are older, but they still love to play with their mom. So while the weather is nice, let’s get out there and PLAY!

Kerry Beymer (pronounced BEE-murr) graduated from Washington State University and has been a parenting educator for more than 15 years. She is Parenting Support and Education manager at Encompass. Kerry has two children, one in college and one in middle school. She recently was certified as a “Parenting Counts Educator” by the Talaris Institute of Seattle. Kerry uses humor and storytelling in her classes in a non- judgmental setting. “Parenting,” she says, “is the most challenging and most important job there is.”