Summer is just around the corner and with it comes summer camp. How do you choose a camp for your child? Sometimes we are presented with so many options that it is overwhelming, making the easiest option just not to choose. Unfortunately, that option will not get your kid into an engaging, fun, and rewarding camp this summer.
So how do you choose between all the different types of summer camp? We've broken it down into 5 easy steps that will have your child on their way to a great summer.
1) Decide whether a day camp or a resident (overnight) camp is best for your child. Many overnight camps start at the age of 7, but most experts agree that the average child is not ready to be gone from their parents for two weeks (the average length of camps) until the age of 10-12.
Day camps are a great starting point for kids. Most start between age 3 and 4 and go through high school. Children can become accustomed to being gone from parents for a half a day or a whole day. It is a good transitional step to a residential camp.
If your child has done well at day camps and is interested in a more in-depth camp experience, then you might want to consider a resident camp.
2) Consider your child’s interests. From art to theater to sports to computers to dance to gymnastics, there really is a camp for everyone. Ask your child, "What do you want to do this summer?" Ask yourself and people who are close to your child, "What do you think he/she would like?" or "What would be good for them?"
Know your child. If your son loves horses and the outdoors, spending five days in a computer camp might not be a good fit. However, if you have seen your daughter's artistic side and would like her to be able to explore it further, add an art camp to your shortlist.
3) Take a close look at your budget. Camp costs can vary dramatically. Day camps are typically less expensive than residential camps. Once you've determined your budget, involve your child in the selection process. For younger kids, give them a few camp options and let them know how many they can choose to stay within your budget. For an older child, tell them the budget amount and that it is their choice to go to one expensive camp or a few less expensive camps.
4) Ask Questions. Okay. You have narrowed the camps down based on your child's age, interests, and your budget. Now, ask questions! Ask the camps, your neighbors, your friends, and other trusted outlets. Below are a few questions to guide you.
- How is the staff hired, screened, and trained?
- What is the camper to counselor ratio?
- When are campers supervised?
- Do you provide snacks and lunch (day camp)?
- What is the pickup/drop off policy?
- What is the age range of children attending camp?
- What if my child really dislikes it (refund policy)?
- What is your camper return rate?
- What is a sample daily schedule?
- How do you handle conflict between campers?
- How do you handle separation anxiety?
- Do you have an open house?
- What should my child bring to camp (sunscreen, hat, swimsuit, money, etc.)?
5) Sign up! Camps fill up fast. Many offer early-bird specials and coupons. Call or check their website to find out if they have any special offers.
We hope your child will find the perfect summer camp that helps them have an amazing and memorable summer!