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The Handwork Studio: Laura Kelly

June 8, 2011

Every so often we conduct interviews with camp directors to collect advice for parents looking for unique experiences for their kids.  We recently exchanged emails with Laura Kelly, summer camp director at The Handwork Studio, which has six locations in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.   Laura spent her entire life working with kids so it was only natural that she became a camp director seven years ago when The Handwork Studio took their year round arts education program and developed it into a summer camp program.

With so many camps available, how can parents find the right camp for their child?  Any specific advice on selecting an art and fashion camp?

Knowing what your goals as a parent are for summer camp will help you find the camp that is best for your child.  Think about what you need: child care, enrichment, a unique experience, to learn a specific skill (SAT tutoring, math, science, art, horseback riding), sleep away.  If you don’t know exactly what you would like, but you just want your child to have fun, then the good news is your options today are really endless!  In that situation I’d suggest looking for something that is convenient for you as a parent.  How close to is the camp to your home?  Do they have before and after care if you need it?  Are they reputable?

When looking specifically for an arts and fashion camp you’ll want to ask:

  • What skills and techniques will my child learn?
  • If machine sewing or fashion, will my child have their own sewing machine?
  • If taking a fashion program, will my child get to design, create and sew their own fashions?
  • What is the experience of the fashion counselor?
  • Will I have to buy and bring my child’s own supplies or will everything be provided?

What other questions should a parent ask a camp?

  • What is the ratio of campers to counselors?
  • Is someone CPR certified?
  • Do you do background checks on your counselors?
  • What is your peanut policy?
  • What is the mission and philosophy of the camp?
  • How will my child’s day be structured?
  • Are they listed with the Better Business Bureau? If so, what is their score?

Some kids attend as many as 10 weeks of summer camp. The summer can seem long. Any tips on preventing camp burn-out?

Pick a camp where the curriculum changes from week to week.  With all the different choices available, have your child try all kinds of new experiences.  Go to camp with different friends on different weeks. 

How should parents help kids prepare for camp?

Camp can be scary for young children or first time campers.  Perhaps finding a camp that can introduce the idea of camp gradually would be helpful, those with half day or afternoon programs.  If your child is really young, find out what the camp policy is about a parent staying at the camp until the child is comfortable.  If the camp is unwilling to let you stay for a bit, you may want to choose a different camp that lets the parent stay for a transitional period.  If your child is especially nervous, have them come by and meet their camp counselor before camp begins so that is one less thing they have to worry about.  Sending them to camp with a friend can also be helpful.

Tell us what is special about The Handwork Studio camp?

The Handwork Studio is a needle arts and fashion camp.  We teach kids arts such as knitting, crocheting, embroidery, machine sewing and fashion in a fun and relaxed atmosphere.  We are as much about loving, nurturing and making your child feel special as we are about teaching needle arts.  Our instructors are trained to patiently teach the kids different skills through the completion of really cool projects.  Our days are structured around a series of activities and breaks so the kids are engaged throughout the day.  Our curriculum changes from week to week so if you need multiple weeks, projects won’t be repeated.

Read more about The Handwork Studio at


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