Summers are magical, right? School is out, the days are long, and free time abounds. There are so many reasons parents send their kids to a camp; to mature, meet new friends, have fun, try out new activities and even just get some time out of the house!
Summer camp is a special type of community where kids come together to have fun. Within the camp setting, children develop a sense of independence as they try new adventures away from home. Summer camps can offer a unique venue for growth, allowing kids to become independent and self-confident, while socializing and making new friends, and even learning new skills.
As a parent myself, I understand that choosing the right camp for your child can be a challenge. Whether your child has been to camp several years in a row or if you are a newbie and looking to start this summer, choosing the right summer day camp or sleep-away camp for your child can be an intimidating process. The summer camp industry is also very competitive and tuition can also quickly add up. So consider choosing the right camp for your child based on:
- Setting the Right Expectations: Before you can pick the right summer camp, you need to first define “right;” and you do so by setting expectations. The goal is to get kids excited about summer by finding programs that speak to their current interests. By starting the process with you and your child on the same page and speaking the same language, you’re more likely to find a camp you both love. If your child does not enjoy sports for example, and you sign them up for a basketball camp with all of his/her friends because you think you can coordinate carpool together, chances are she’s going to be miserable.
- Social Aspect: Meeting new friends or going with kids your child already knows. It’s great to experience camp with people you already know. However, summer can be a perfect time to make new friends and learn new social skills.
- Quality of the program: Is your child going to be learning anything new? If it is a specialty camp, it could be a theme or particular offering that might sound interesting. You should look for a camp that will challenge your child to keep learning in a fun environment. You should always ask what sets a camp apart from their competition?
- Safety: What are the qualifications of the staff? How do they handle conflict? Is the staff CPR/First Aid certified? What is the ratio for the program with adults? Is the staff vetted and background checked? Where do they come from? Are most of the counselors teenagers? How many adults on premise?
- Cost: Many camps start running early bird specials in January, offer referral fees and sibling discounts. Be sure to check on cut off dates. It helps to shop early to take advantage of the specials. You can also always ask for assistance with establishing a payment plan. Think of camp as an investment. Keep in mind that cost is typically reflective of all that goes into camp, and could be correlated with what your kid will get out of it. Some sports camps for instance might be relatively cheaper given the fact that they might only need equipment and an open field in order to run camp.
- Focus/Mission/Environment: What are the main core values of the camp program? Do they align with yours as a parent? In the same way that a stellar teacher can turn a boring subject into something magical, the right summer camp environment will make your child’s camp experience unforgettable.
Always, be sure to ask the right question and do your research. Any quality camp program should strive to create the best possible experience possible for the campers in their care.