By Shawn Chitnis

DENVER (CBS4)– Two Colorado mothers have launched a website to help parents navigate the challenging process of selecting a summer camp for their children. Camp Sidekick is based on years of trying to filter through all the options months before their students are out of school.

(credit: Camp Sidekick)

“We would search for camps, not find what we were looking for,” said Teresa Ish, co-founder of Camp Sidekick. “How do we get them in the same camps?”

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Ish and her co-founder Kara Trim were already doing the work to sort through so many options among their group of friends. They both have children in school and remember needing to start planning in January for 10 weeks in the summer. It’s often a challenge because you want siblings together and they want to spend the summer with their friends.

“We’ve got a lot of interest from parents, parents definitely see a need for this,” Trim said.

(credit: CBS)

The founders of Camp Sidekick say the process feels like college admissions, families need first choices and backup options. They’ve even seen registration moved up to December for some camps. So, after working together to create spreadsheets and help sort through so many camps, they launched the website in time for this year’s summer camps. A large directory of options, it helps parents consider the logistics specific to their families. Location, hours including child care, and cost are some of filters available on the website.

“In some cases, sending your kids to college is cheaper than summer camp,” Ish said. “I think the camps are feeling the competition as well.”

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(credit: Camp Sidekick)

The website could help families find lesser known camps once they search for options that meet all of their needs. The team behind Camp Sidekick is not what you might expect. Trim has a legal and audit background, Ish is a marine biologist. Together they are building the site and also offer a planning service to help families consider availability, child interests, and budget for camps. They suggest parents be flexible and encourage their children to try different camps, exploring new interests each summer.

“There’s really important value in kids attending summer camps for the academic performance,” Ish said. “We have to figure out a way to make it equitable.”

These two mothers wish they had this tool when they started four summers ago. But they hope it will help more families get access to summer camps. A majority of households in Colorado need childcare because all adults are working so they know camps are essential. Camps also play an important role in keeping students stimulated so they are ready to return to school in the fall.

“It gets them experiences that they don’t normally get during the school year,” she said. “All families have access to camps is really important to support education and youth in our community.”

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LINK: Camp Sidekick

Shawn Chitnis