Choosing a summer camp

Amazingly the second week in May has arrived and your kids are most probably counting down the days until summer vacation. But as the school days dwindle, so do the number of days to choose the best summer camp option for your kids.

Parents and their kids should both play an active part into finding the perfect summer camp. Whether down the street or on the other side of the country, summer camps want your kids to attend their program because like any other business they need to make money.  Although websites and camp handouts can be helpful I suggest take some time to talk with a Camp Director of each camp and discuss the following topics.

Programs

Your kids will be spending a lot of time at camp and if they don't enjoy the programs, it's going to be a long summer. Talk with your kids about what they enjoy doing or what they want to learn more about.  Once you know what their interest are you can start searching for programs.  www.tbparenting.com has a complete list of local camps for ages 4-17, from rocket science to musical theater. If your kids are in high school, talk with them about academic or enrichment programs that will help prepare them for college.

Staff and Counselors

Your kids will be spending a lot of time with counselors this summer so make sure you understand how they are hired. Find out what sort of background checks that staff must pass (if any) as well as if the staff is trained in First Aid and CPR. Many camps will hire older high school students, which if done correctly, but shouldn't replaced by trained older adults.  Lastly, incur as to what the ratio of counselors to campers is. Counselor to camper ratios can vary depending on there age group, but should never exceed 1counselor/teacher per 12 children.

References

If you know of anyone who has sent their children to the camp your interested in don't be afraid to ask what they thought. Most camps are also happy to supply you with a references list of current and former campers. Ask "Is there anything you didn't like about the camp?" or "Will you be sending your kids back this year?".  

Accreditation

There are numerous national organizations, like the American Camps Association, that review programs and camps making sure that staff, facilities and programs are safe and up-to-date. Many wonderful camps aren't accredited but every camp should be able to tell you how they are evaluated and improve programs on an annual basis.

Although time consuming, this research will pay off making summer time easier for you and the kids.If something doesn't feel right about a camp, trust that feeling. No one knows what your kids need and want better than you do. And to ease the pre-summer camp jitters, try taking your kids to visit the camp before the first day.

Sources:

www.TBParenting.com

www.CampParents.org (American Camps Association)

www.GreatSchools.org

www.ParentingWithAngela.com

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