How to Find the Best Summer Camp for Your Child…
Some quick tips on how to choose the best summer camp for your child…
For starters, it’s much more than skits, snacks and sing-alongs. The best summer camps provide useful skills and lifelong memories for your child. Here’s how to pick a winner so that your kid has an unforgettable awesome summer…
Parents Have Some Homework to Do
It’s smart to talk with camp directors before making any decisions. Good camps EXPECT to hear from you during the selection process. It’s a two-way street for parents and directors and any trustworthy director will want parents to know them, just as much they’ll want to know the parents and their child.
The best camps always have someone you can talk to you before, during and after camp, and they promptly return your calls. They’ll also have references for you to talk to, and some may even offer tours of their facility or hold open houses.
When Looking for a Summer Camp, Pay Attention to These Key Things
● A good history. Some experts and parents believe that operating a camp for many years, especially with the same staff (or little turnover), speaks volumes about its credibility. In today’s world, a camp simply couldn’t stay in business for long if it were unsafe or poorly run.
● A philosophy. Does it focus on sports? Martial arts? Academic? Arts? Theme? How does this philosophy show up in its programs?
● An emphasis on creating community. Good camps think about how they place kids together to create the most wide-ranging experience for everyone.
● A well-trained staff, in adequate numbers for a low campers-to-staffers ratio (about 10 to 1 for kids ages 8 to 14). An in-depth background check, checked references and a thorough interview should be part of the hiring process.
● An element of choice. Your child will feel more independent and happy if they can choose some activities that really interest them.
● A communications plan for notifying you if your child gets sick or injured and letting parents know about upcoming events. They also have a “flexibly firm” and consistent policy on camper phone use.
● A high standard of accreditation. Ask the camp director if they’re accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA), which conducts on-site visits and reviews programs, facilities, and hiring and safety policies. Only the most professionally run camps qualify. If a camp lacks the ACA nod, it may still be a high-quality program, but you’ll need to ask more questions.
Another good rule of thumb: Make sure you understand the camp’s values and mission and see if the activities they provide are in line with both your child’s interests and their goals.
You want to look for something educational, entertaining & engaging, but not just an extension of school or daycare. “A day camp should be different, with a wide range of activities your child wouldn’t otherwise have access to, that get him up and moving and building new skills,” says Peg Smith, chief executive officer of the American Camp Association.
3 Easy Ways to Make Summer Camp Affordable
1. Register early to take full advantage of early-bird discounts.
2. Ask for financial assistance if needed, even if scholarship information isn’t posted on the camp’s website. They typically don’t mention this because they get plenty of enrollments as it is.
3. Talk with the parents of your child’s friends to see which camps they’re going to. If you want to send your child to the same one or get a group to join the one you’re interested in, ask the camp director for a group discount if you send in all the registrations at the same time.
As with anything, some camps are clearly better than others. If you do your due diligence, ask the right questions and go with your gut feelings, chances are good that you’ll find the best Summer Camp for your child and a good time will be had by all.