Every year around February and March, parents start to consider their family’s options for summer child care, and in many instances, this means summer camps.
Here are some quick tips based on our experience as well as resources available from the American Camp Association.
The Search Begins
Start with your child being a part of the experience and include them in the decision-making process. Are they wanting action and adventure or are they more interested in robotics and technology? There are camps available for a multitude of interests.
As a parent – what type of camp environment and activities would your child enjoy most? Be sure it’s about what the child will enjoy and not what the parent wishes he or she had done as a child.
What type of camp is right for your child?
- Day Camp – usually close to home
- Resident / Overnight Camp – can be anywhere around the world
- Specialty Camp – emphasizes a specific activity such as sports, drama, technology, etc.
- Special Needs Camp – able to provide more detailed care to benefit the child
Start narrowing the search by requesting brochures and literature from the camp; visiting the camp website; and learning about the activities and staff; and when possible, visit the camp.
When you have your top 2-3 choices, and if the camp is local, schedule a tour or a phone interview with one of the camp administrators. If touring, take your child with you so they can ask questions about the activities and see the facility.
Parents should ask these questions:
- What is the camp’s philosophy?
- What is the camp director’s background?
- How are the counselors hired and trained and what’s included in their training?
- What percentage of the counselors returned from last year?
- How is behavior and discipline handled?
- What’s a typical day like including activity and meal times?
- Is the camp accredited by the American Camp Association? Accredited camps must voluntarily comply with more than 300 standards that focus on Site and Facility, Transportation, Health Care, Staffing, and Program.
We strongly believe that camp is a vital part of child and youth development, and when choosing a camp, be sure to discover their mission and purpose. For example, at Tate’s Day Camp, we intentionally structure our program to provide opportunities for children to try new activities in a controlled environment; experience both successes and failures; promote communication and gain confidence; and make new friends. Of course the campers just think it’s all about the FUN.
To learn more about choosing camps and access a national database of more than 3500 camps visit www.acacamps.org.
Written by Chris Strevel