Summer camps have a significant impact on a child’s life. It is important for parents to learn how to make an informed decision when choosing a camp. Many issues must be considered before locating the perfect camp. Summer camps offer children an opportunity to learn and make new friends. Careful planning will ensure that your child’s summer camp is enjoyable and memorable.
Things You’ll Need:
- Information from each camp you are considering
- List of questions you need answered
- Maps or directions to the camps
- Type and cost of each camp
- List of goals and activities you want your child to experience at camp
- List the goals and activities you and your child want to gain from summer camp. There is a wide range of camps available, such as athletic camps, religious camps, academic camps, adventure camps and fantasy camps to name a few.
- Involve your child, if age appropriate, in choosing the camp.
- Determine the needs of your child. All children are different, and all have different needs to consider. The camp you choose needs to be age appropriate and should meet the physical, emotional and mental needs of your child.
- Decide if your child is ready for a sleep-away experience. There are day camps and overnight (residential) camps to choose from. Some camps may last for 2 or 3 days or continue for several weeks or even all summer for older children.
- Verify who sponsors the camp. Camps are run by a variety of organizations. Camps run by municipalities or by agencies tend to be lower-cost. Private camps tend to fill-up early and are usually more expensive but may offer scholarships.
- Understand the philosophy of the camp. Does the camp emphasize one activity or offer a wide array of programs? From the organization perspective, what is the purpose of the camp?
- Find out the cost of the camp. By planning, many camps offer ways to assist parents with the cost of the camp. Most have fund-raising activities throughout the year to assist in offsetting the cost. There are also many camps available that are free if the child or family meets certain requirements.
Tips & Warnings
- Overnight camps are usually coed, all boys, all girls, or brother and sister.
- Start with a day camp for young children before moving up to a residential camp.
- Camps vary in size. Smaller camps offer environments where campers and staff get to know each other on a more personal level.
- If special accommodations or adaptations are needed, make sure the camp can provide them for your child.
- Some camps for older children require interviews and letters of recommendation before being accepted.
- If this is the first residential camp for your child, have a backup plan in place in case your child becomes too homesick to stay the full length of the camp. The camp should have a policy for lonely children as well. Find out about the refund policy.
- Make sure the staff and counselors who are managing the camp are certified in the appropriate areas concerning the camp your child attends. Example: if your child is participating in a camp that involves swimming, you want the staff and counselors certified as lifeguards and in CPR.
- If your child has medical issues such as asthma or seizures make sure there are medical personnel in the camp who can properly care for your child in case of an emergency. Find out what their medical emergency policy is and what hospital would be used if an emergency took place.