In this issue:
How to Find the Right Camp for Your Child
Getting Your Vehicle Ready for Summer
What If You Miss the April 15 Tax Deadline?
|How to Find the Right Camp for Your Child
When parents are looking for the right camp for their child, they have a lot of questions. How do I find the right camp? Is my child old enough for overnight camp? How do I know the staff is qualified?
Accreditation from the American Camp Association
The most important question to ask when looking for a camp: Is the camp accredited by the American Camp Association® (ACA)? "ACA accreditation provides parents and the public with evidence that camps have voluntarily met health and safety standards through a peer review," explains Tom Rosenberg, president/CEO of the American Camp Association.
ACA accreditation educates camp owners and directors in the administration of key aspects of camp operation, program quality, and the health and safety of campers and staff. It establishes guidelines for needed policies, procedures, and practices for which the camp is responsible for ongoing implementation. It assists the public in selecting camps that meet industry-accepted and government-recognized standards.
The American Camp Association collaborates with experts from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Red Cross, and other youth-serving agencies to assure that current practices at your child's camp reflect the most up-to-date, research-based standards in camp operation.
Involve Your Child and Ask Questions
During the camp search process, it can be helpful for parents to involve their child. Parents can also gauge their child's readiness by their excitement and involvement. When deciding if it is the right time to try an overnight camp experience, consider if your child has had successful overnight experiences with a friend or relative. Is your child excited about being away from home at camp?
If possible, families can visit camps in person. Camp directors like giving tours. Families can visualize the experience ahead of time and ask the director lots of questions. They can ask if the camp is accredited, and if they are not accredited, they can ask why not.
Other questions to ask: What are the camp's philosophy and program emphasis? What is the camp director's background? What training do counselors receive? What is the counselor-to-camper ratio? What are the ages of the counselors? How does the camp handle homesickness and other adjustment issues?
The Benefit of Camp
Camp has been providing special memories of hiking, swimming, friendships, and adventure for generations. When children go to camp, they'll likely come home gushing about the lifelong friends they've made and the exciting adventures they had. What they probably won't tell you about are the life lessons camp has given them - those skills that will translate into a lasting self-confidence, an awareness of the importance of kindness, and a greater comfort in voicing their opinions.
Camp provides children with a community of caring adults, who nurture experiential education that results in self-respect and appreciation for human value.
Families can find the accreditation status of any camp at any time by visiting ACAcamps.org or by calling 1-800-428-CAMP. If your child's camp is not accredited, ask why not.
Article courtesy of Newsweek.com
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Getting Your Vehicle Ready For Summer
|Summer's heat, dust, and stop-and-go traffic, will take their toll on your vehicle. Add the effects of last winter, and you could be poised for a breakdown. You can lessen the odds of mechanical failure through periodic maintenance. Your vehicle should last longer and command a higher resale price, too!
Some of the following tips are easy to do; others require a skilled auto technician.
Article courtesy of National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE)
- Air Conditioning
A marginally operating system will fail in hot weather. Have the system examined by a qualified technician. Newer models have cabin air filters that clean the air entering the heating and air conditioning system. Check your owner's manual for location and replacement interval.
- Cooling System
The greatest cause of summer breakdowns is overheating. The cooling system should be completely flushed and refilled about every 24 months. The level, condition, and concentration of the coolant should be checked periodically. (A 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water is usually recommended.) DIYers, never remove the radiator cap until the engine has thoroughly cooled! The tightness and condition of drive belts, clamps, and hoses should be checked by a pro.
Change your oil and oil filter as specified in your manual more often (every 3,000 miles) if you make frequent short jaunts, extended trips with lots of luggage, or tow a trailer.
- Engine Performance
Replace other filters (air, fuel, PCV, etc.) as recommended more often in dusty conditions. Get engine drive-ability problems (hard starts, rough idling, stalling, diminished power, etc.) corrected at a good shop.
- Windshield Wipers
A dirty windshield causes eye fatigue and can pose a safety hazard. Replace worn blades and get plenty of windshield washer solvent.
Inspect all lights and bulbs; replace burned out bulbs; periodically clean dirt and insects from all lenses. To prevent scratching, never use a dry rag.
Have your tires rotated about every 5,000 miles. Check tire pressures once a month; check them while they're cold before driving for any distance. Don't forget to check your spare as well and be sure the jack is in good condition. Examine tires for tread life, uneven wearing, and cupping; check the sidewalls for cuts and nicks. An alignment is warranted if there's uneven tread wear or if your vehicle pulls to one side.
Brakes should be inspected as recommended in your manual, or sooner if you notice pulsations, grabbing, noises, or longer stopping distance. Minor brake problems should be corrected promptly.
Batteries can fail any time of year. The only accurate way to detect a weak battery is with professional equipment. Routine care: Scrape away corrosion from posts and cable connections; clean all surfaces; re-tighten all connections. If battery caps are removable, check the fluid level monthly.Avoid contact with corrosive deposits and battery acid. Wear eye protection and rubber gloves.
Carry some basic tools - ask a technician for suggestions. Also include a first aid kit, flares, and a flashlight.
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|What If You Miss the April 15 Tax Deadline?
If you miss this year's tax-filing deadline, take heart. You won't find IRS agents waiting at your door to haul you away to the dungeons. But the consequences of not filing vary greatly, according to financial adviser Dave Ramsey, and they depend a lot on whether you're getting a refund or if you have to pay.
If You're Getting a Refund
For taxpayers who are due a refund, there's no penalty for failing to file by April 15. However, you won't receive your refund until you file. You have three years from the original deadline to file and still receive your refund. If you still don't file by then, Uncle Sam will simply keep your money.
If You Owe Taxes
If you owe taxes, however, things can get expensive quickly. If you don't file your return or an extension by the April 15 deadline, you'll be charged a late filing penalty of 5% of the taxes owed for each month, or part of a month, that your return is late, up to a maximum of 25%. The IRS also charges a late payment penalty and interest on your unpaid tax starting the date payment is due, even if you filed an extension.
It's important to note that the late-filing penalty can be 10 times more than the late payment penalty. Even if you can't pay your tax bill and didn't file an extension, go ahead and file your return as soon as possible so you can minimize the late-filing penalty.
During this time, you can expect the IRS to send you several reminders to file your taxes. The IRS may file a return for you, but it probably won't include every deduction you're eligible to receive, leaving you with an even higher tax bill than before.
If you continue to ignore your responsibility, the IRS may seize your bank accounts, income or other assets.
If you've failed to file past years' returns, or if you know you won't meet this year's deadline, schedule an appointment with a tax professional who can help you straighten out the mess. Don't try to handle this yourself! An experienced tax pro can help you minimize the damage if you owe and maximize any refunds you may be eligible to receive.
Article courtesy of Daveramsey.com
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