Fun is snorkeling in the Caribbean, ballooning in France, snowmobiling in Canada. It's sleeping in a tent, barbecuing and making new friends. Fun . . . is summer camp.
You and your child can choose one that offers white-water rafting, theater production or hang gliding. One that emphasizes acting, painting, singing, golf, tennis or basketball. One where young people can explore ecologic communities or desert archeology, work with animals, improve their appearance, bone up on academic skills or study for college-entrance exams.
Somewhere, there's a camp, a teen tour, an outward bound program or a homestay program in the United States or abroad to suit the interest of every 8- to 18-year-old. The popular ones are filled early, often by April 1, so now is the time to make your decision.
Confused? Don't be. Let camp broker Sandra Rudnick of Tips on Trips, (213) 859-4738, or camp-placement counselors Katherine Kendall, (213) 274-6262, Anne Kogen and Marion Tepper, (818) 784-6206, help. Information is also available through American Camping Assn. Southern California Section, (213) 498-5781, Western Assn. of Independent Camps, (213) 494-8070, or the camps themselves.
The latter two organizations will sponsor CampFair '87 on March 22, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at Buckley School, 3900 Stansbury Ave., Sherman Oaks. More than 50 summer camps will be represented. Telephone (213) 822-2451 for more information.
Meanwhile, the following 10 ideas will make you wish you could go with your youngster:
French Woods, on a private lake in New York, features specialty programs in music, art, theater and dance. Circus and theater performances along with athletic competitions mark the culmination of each session. Tuition varies from $1,250 to $1,550 per 3-week period.
Contact: French Woods, P.O. Box 2800, Pomona, N.Y. 10970-2800, (914) 354-9267.
Sport for Understanding participants train for four weeks, in the sport of their choice, at sport clubs around the world. From New Zealand to Finland, Belgium to Alaska, visitors live with host families and share fun-filled moments unique to the host country. Limited to 14- to 19-year-olds with 2.0 or better grade point averages. Most programs begin at $1,400.
Contact: Sport for Understanding, 3501 Newark St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20016, (800) 424-3691 or (202) 966-6800.
Gold Arrow Camp on Lake Huntington in the High Sierra not only boasts a fleet of more than 55 national-class sailboats from Hobie 14 catamarans to Lido 14 sloops, Sunfish, Minifish, Hobie 10s and Flippers, plus canoes, kayaks and motorboats, but also an equally fine equestrian program, including vaulting, ring and trail riding. The camp is limited to boys and girls ages 7-14. Tuition is $1,045 for 15 days, $1,995 for a 30-day session, including bus travel to and from specified locations.
Contact: Gold Arrow Camp, P.O. Box 5487, Carson, Calif. 90749, (213) 324-5980.
The School for Field Studies offers the world as a classroom. Team members meet for a month to study such subjects as wildlife management in Africa, humpback whale ecology in the North Atlantic or deforestation in Costa Rica. Tuition of $1,510 to $2,240 does not include transportation or personal gear.
Contact: the School for Field Studies, 376 Hale St., Beverly, Mass. 01915, (617) 927-7777.
Mountain Meadow Ranch encourages creativity, spontaneity and using the imagination. Established in 1956, its goal is to "give city youngsters an opportunity to live in the wide-open spaces with real ranch experiences and the adventurous life of the out-of-doors." Limited to 90 campers, each of the three 3-week periods runs $1,050. A weeklong water ski camp, Aug. 23-29, is $400.
Contact: Mountain Meadow Ranch, P.O. Box 610, Susanville, Calif. 96130, (916) 257-4419.
Colvig Silver Camps' five programs (elementary to high school) are highlighted by 1- to 6-day "expeditions," which include river rafting, prospecting, horse packing, mountain climbing, lake canoeing and ghost town exploring. The 4-, 5- and 9-week terms are $1,500 to $3,150, excluding transportation and miscellaneous expenses.
Contact: Colvig Silver Camps, 9665 Florida Road, Durango, Colo. 81301, (303) 247-2564.
Valley Student Tours, in its 17th year, offers school credit for six weeks of travel throughout the United States and Eastern Canada. Travel by air-conditioned bus to the Grand Canyon, Bourbon Street in New Orleans, the Johnson Space Center and NASA in Houston, Disney World, the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa, Yellowstone National Park and more. "Campers" swim in the Gulf Stream waters, shop on New York's Fifth Avenue and shoot the Snake River Rapids on rafts. Youngsters ages 14 to 19 visit 32 to 36 states. The program, accredited by the Western Assn. of Schools and Colleges, is part of Montclair College Preparatory School's summer program and costs $1,895 excluding food, laundry and sundries.
Contact: Valley Student Tours, P.O. Box 9325, Glendale, Calif. 91206, (818) 247-7717.