Families love Great Times Day Camp because it is the perfect mix of safe fun for kids, and convenience and flexibility for their families. When founder and director Mike Kernan started the camp in the summer of 1978, his objective was to help families flow from the end of one school year to the beginning of the next as easily as possible.
“We’re a family-owned business, so parents and children get a lot of special attention,” insists Kernan. “We try to accommodate the needs of the family.”
Now headed into its 47th season, Great Times, located in Waterford, has found many ways to do just that. Campers ages 3 to 15 can attend either three, four or five days each week, for two to nine weeks. They can choose the weeks and days that best meet their family’s summer schedule.
In addition to their flexible scheduling, Great Times Day Camp offers door-to-door transportation in their 15 air-conditioned passenger vans, extended on-site care hours and pick-up options for all of their campers.
In an effort to make camp more accessible to families, Great Times also offers pricing discounts including early-bird pay in full, discounted rates for additional children, and a flat-rate discount for families of military, police or firefighters.
Parents feel secure knowing that their children are supervised by teachers who serve as counselors at Great Times.
“When I started the camp I hired teachers, and we’ve expanded to the point where we have over 30 teachers working here now over the summer. You get into teaching because you enjoy working with children, and at camp, teachers work well with the children,” explains Kernan, a teacher himself, “We hire teachers who exhibit a love and interest for children beyond the classroom.”
Many teachers have experience in special education classrooms, as well. Some also bring with them backgrounds in coaching varsity sports in high schools, and can share that knowledge with campers of all skill levels.
Understanding that kids have varied interests and abilities, Great Times makes sure they focus on each individual.
“Great Times stays great year after year because we focus our program on every child in camp. We want every child to succeed at camp, and it is our goal to make each child feel important and successful at each activity,” explains Kernan. “Our program is set up so that each activity includes a portion of the period dedicated to teaching the child a skill related to the activity.”
That ensures that beginners have an opportunity to further their skills, while more advanced kids can further their abilities in a non-competitive environment. Building confidence is equally as important as having fun.
In addition to skill-based activities, each camper is provided with swim instruction. Beginner swimmers are taught the fundamentals while long-term campers and more experienced swimmers focus on increasing their stamina and reinforcing their skills.
“Swim lessons are a big reason many parents send their children to camp,” says Kernan. “They want their child to learn to swim, so they are safe around water.”
Food and Fun
Kids enjoy lunch similar to a typical school lunch each day, with alternative choices available. Form ulated by a nutritionist, meals are balanced while appealing to children’s appetites.
For children who prefer to bring their own lunch, the camp will keep them refrigerated until meal time. Snacks and drinks are also provided. The staff is sensitive to kids with food allergies, taking great pains to keep all campers safe.
Though lunchtime may be some kids’ favorite time of day, there are tons of activities to help them work up an appetite. There are many sports venues to choose from including 10 basketball courts, baseball and softball fields, a hockey rink, tennis courts and more – as well as plenty of water activities with two water park areas and a 25-acre lake for boating and fishing.
For those artistically inclined, an air-conditioned arts and crafts space is popular on hot and humid days. A creativity program allows campers to star in a talent show led by an experienced teacher. An extensive arts and crafts program encourages kids’ creativity, and cooking classes allow them to explore the kitchen.
Campers also take part in weekly age-appropriate field trips including seeing movies, mini-golfing, bowling and participating in the Great Times Talent Show.
“Our trip schedule reinforces that learning experience that they get during the summer, keeping their minds fresh and active,” suggests Kernan. “That’s an important part of what camp offers.”
A Family Tradition
Great Times takes great pride in watching families grow, as siblings come to camp for many years.
“There are counselors here who were campers, graduated college and became teachers,” says Kernan. “Parents know their children are well taken care of and safe all day. They know they’ll be well-fed, enjoy swimming and have fun.”
Great Times Day Camp
Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family Magazine, Volume 14, Issue 7.
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