Summer is just around the corner, which means New Jersey children will be getting out of school soon.

Many families have already enrolled their young kids in summer camp. But some have not done so yet. Is it too late?

Not at all, says Susie Lupert, executive director of the American Camp Association of New York and New Jersey, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving, protecting and enhancing the quality of the summer camp experience.

With camp, both children and adults can learn important lessons in community, character building, skill development and healthy life lessons.

Lupert says there are still so many camps available and so many options. It's just a matter of finding the right one that fits your budget and your child's needs. One way to do that she says, "is to call us at the camp association. We provide a free service where we can speak to parents about what type of camp they are looking for, what their child is interested in and we can make recommendations based on that."

Traditional camps where kids go for the entire day are still very popular because they offer a variety of activities. For other families, a camp that specializes in one area such as basketball or lacrosse is the way to go.

Lupert says whatever camp you choose, it's very important for children to get outside on a summer day, stay active and try new things which is why camp is so great.

It used to be that when you signed your children up for summer camp you had to be committed five days a week all summer long with no wiggle room. But Lupert says times have changed. Camps offer tons of flexibility. They understand parents' needs.

Summer camp can be costly depending on whether you're sending your child to a traditional camp or a specialized camp, full time or part time. Camps can run from a few hundred dollars a week to over a thousand a week, but Lupert says there are plenty of nonprofit camps in New Jersey. Other camps offer financial aid, some offer scholarships. Parents should not be afraid to ask these questions.

If your child is too old for camp, perhaps getting a job as a camp counselor is the way to go this summer. They learn how to work with children and how to run a program while having fun and being outside, she says.

"It's a great way to spend the summer. It's better than any internship. You learn important skills rather than fetching coffee in an office," says Lupert.

To find camps in your area and the options they offer, visit The American Camp Association of New York and New Jersey's website at www.acanynj.org. You can search by county or ZIP code. You can search for specialties and camp jobs. Camps actually post their job listings there. You can even post your resume if you're looking in your area.

If you'd rather call to get advice about summer camps in your area, call 212-391-5208.

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