When Janet Vega of New Rochelle decided to attend a camp and activity fair in White Plains on Sunday, the biggest question she had was how to go about choosing a camp for her 7-year-old son, Christian.
So she was pleasantly surprised when she arrived at the for the 30th annual Westchester Camp & Activity Fair to see that Catherine Pearlman, a social worker and family counselor who runs The Family Coach, was giving a presentation on that very subject.
“It was exactly what I needed,” Vega said of the presentation, “How to Choose the First Camp for Your Child,” which was held in a conference room on the hotel’s lower level. “It gave me great ideas and some guidance on the right questions to ask my son so we can make a great decision together.”
The fair’s other seminar was a panel discussion titled, “Selecting a Sleepaway Camp,” and presented by Maine Camp Experience.
On the hotel’s main floor, over 60 information booths manned by various camps gave area parents information as well as chances to win prizes, including discounts on admission.
The fair, which for years had been held on the lower level of the Westchester County Center, was taken over this year for the first time by NYMetroParents, the publisher of WestchesterParent and other publications under the New York City-based Davler Media Group.
Davler Media CEO David L. Miller, who was at the fair along with staffers from WestchesterParent and RocklandParent, said the event was, “beyond our expectations. Last year there were 25 exhibitors; this year there were 63.”
Miller estimated that 350 to 400 parents attended, and that most of them were very serious about sending their child to camp and about making a decision soon.
“Feedback from the camps has been very favorable,” Miller said. “They actually met parents who are genuinely interested in sending their kids to the camps. They were not just kicking the tires but were genuinely interested in finding the right place for their son or daughter.”
Tamika Peters of the Bronx attended with her 8-year-old son, Tamiel, after hearing about the event from a family friend. Tamiel is interested in sports camp, they said, especially with basketball but also perhaps with swimming and soccer. They found several good leads, they said.
Mika Causa of Mount Kisco, the acting director of learn-to-skate programs at the Westchester Skating Academy in Elmsford, said that traffic was heavy at her booth and that she was able to talk up all of the Academy’s programs to people from the area who were not aware of them, including learn-to-skate programs and figure skating and hockey camps.
“It’s not just summer camp, but year-round that we’re here for people,” Causa said.
Alyssa Samson of White Plains, regional director for E.nopi an educational camp with programs in math, reading, and writing, said she spoke to many attendees about the organization’s Summer Bridge Program, which seeks to battle the summer “brain drain” that afflicts many young students during the summer months. E.nopi has locations in Armonk, , and and serves students between the ages of 3 and 16.
Miller said that 16 sleepaway camps, from as far as Pennsylvania and Maine, were among the exhibitors. Now that his company is in charge, he said that “continuous improvement will be the goal” for future events. More seminars are a possibility, he added, with attendee input guiding that to some extent.
An online camp fair is available at WestchesterCampFair.com.