Parenting

How to choose the right summer camp for your child

Before you know it summer will be upon us and your summer time will not be easy or breezy if you don’t find the right summer camp for your child.  American Camp Association has some great advice for how to choose and preparing for camp

When beginning the camp selection process, consider your child's interests. It's important to know a child's personality and identify what camp programs will benefit him or her most. With a variety of programs and activities, summer camp offers fun and meaningful adventures to match a child's interests and maturity level.

Be certain to include your child in the decision-making process. Together with your child, explore the camp options and examine the materials the camps provide. In addition, many camps have web sites that include photos, maps or virtual tours of the camp facility, sample daily schedules and menus, and information about the directors and key staff. As children become better acquainted with the camp experience and more involved in the decision-making process, they will have less anxiety about going away to camp.

Think about what you want in a camp before you enroll your child:

Questions to Consider in Selecting a Resident Camp

  1. What locale do I want to consider? (consider, mountains, oceanfront, distance from home)
  2. Do I want a traditional camp that gives my child a wide variety of experiences or do I want to select a specialty camp that focuses on a particular activity or set of skills?
  3. What size enrollment will make my child feel comfortable?
  4. How rustic do I want the camp to be?
  5. How structured do I want the program to be? Does my child like to have lots of choice in the activity schedule?
  6. Is my child ready to sleep away from home for an extended stay? This will help you to select either a resident or day camp setting.
  7. What session length will appeal to my child and to our family plans for the summer? (One week? Eight weeks?)
  8. How can I stay in touch with my child during camp? Does the camp allow mail, phone calls or e-mail? Does the camp have parent visitation days?
  9. How will the camp meet my child's special dietary or physical needs?
  10. What is my budget for camp tuition? Remember, many camps offer financial aid.

Questions to Consider in Selecting a Day Camp

Day camps offer experiences that are unique from resident camps. Because of this, there are specific points to consider when choosing a day camp.

    1. Does the American Camp Association accredit the camp? ACA has specific standards applicable only for day camps.
    2. What training does the staff receive on safety, supervision, counseling, problem solving and other issues unique to working with young children?
    3. Is the price all-inclusive or are there extra charges for:

    · transportation     · overnights     · swimming lessons     · food service     · horseback riding     · group pictures     · T-shirts     · extended care     · field trips

  • If transportation is offered, where is the closest pick-up location?
  • Does the camp have an "express bus" which transports children quickly?
  • If before- and after-camp extended care is offered, who is with the children and what activities take place?
  • Is lunch served or do campers bring their own sack lunch? Are snacks and drinks provided?
  • If the camp offers swimming, are there swimming lessons or is it simply recreational swimming?
  • Are campers in a group with a counselor all day? Or, are campers free to go from one activity to another with appropriate supervision? In this case, whom would you talk to if you had a question or concern about your child?
  • Is an open house offered before camp starts where you can meet your child's counselor and van/bus driver?
  • Are parents allowed to drop by for visits or is there a special parent visitation day?

 Once you have answered these questions, visit ACA's Camp Database to find a camp just right for your child. Parents may call ACA National Headquarters 800-428-CAMP  for further information about specific camps or for the ACA section in their region


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