Foursquare, slip and slide, kickball, and talent shows; these are some of the best memories I’ve had from my summer camp days as a child. While I am slightly embarrassed at the pictures from my camp talent show, I do think children should have a chance to experience this! Summer is right around the corner and while many of you are starting the process of choosing a summer camp for your child, there are several factors that need to be considered before a final decision is made.
Give them choices
Remember, it is your children who will be going to camp and some even might attend for up to 10 weeks. It is important, first of all, to ask whether or not they are actually interested in going to camp.
Once that interest is established, find out if they would like to go to day camp or overnight camp (if they are old enough!) From that point, have a few options for them – give them the option to decide if they would like to go to a specialty camp or one that offers several different activities throughout the day. If your child has expressed interest in one particular activity such as painting or tennis, a summer camp for one of these activities might be the perfect fit for them! This will allow them ample time to learn more about the activity and find if they want to pursue it further.
A full day camp, with activities scheduled all day long, will always keep your child busy and generally allow them to choose different events they would like to do.
Stay within budget
Depending on what you and your children are looking for, summer camp can be a very affordable experience. The Chicago Tribune states, “There are a wide range of price options available, depending upon the choice of camp, the facilities offered and your camper’s needs.” Summer camps can range from $43 per day to $5000 for the whole summer. With this cost range in mind, it is important to set a budget that will work for you and your family.
Whilst it is important that you stay within budget and that your child is pursuing interests while surrounded by friends; the most important factor is your child’s safety, especially regarding the chance of any type of personal injury. Once you start narrowing down your summer camp list, there are a few questions you will want to ask the camp directly.
It is important to know if the camp is accredited. If the camp is accredited, this means it has passed 300 different health and safety tests. If for some reason it isn’t accredited, you should find out why not. Although this could be because certain states do not require licensing or accreditation for summer camps, it’s very important for you, as a parent, know this. Just because a camp is called a camp does not mean it is licensed or inspected by the state.
You should also make it a priority to ask how the camp recruits, hires and screens its employees. If the camp does not do a criminal background check on its employees, then you should not send your child to that camp because it would be very easy for a predator to slip through the cracks and this leaves all the children vulnerable.
Be sure to ask what kind of medical staff the camp has and to what level they are trained, for example, is everybody on the staff CPR and First Aid certified? If not, how many of the counselors are? You should also ask how long it takes for an ambulance to get to the camp and where the nearest hospital is. If it takes an ambulance 30 minutes to get to the camp and the nearest hospital is an hour away, this is something you definitely want to consider before choosing a camp, especially if your child was taking part in highly physical activities.
Don’t be afraid to ask the camp for references. Get names and phone numbers of some credible references such as parents of other children who have attended camp there in the past. Your child will be spending a majority of their summer with the camp, so it will be beneficial to hear feedback from other children’s parents. Find out what they may or may not have liked about the camp.
Choosing a summer camp for your child can be a very easy decision. There are many different factors that need to be considered when choosing: know your budget, understand what your child is looking for and, most importantly, check the safety factors. These are the steps you should take to ensure your child has a memorable, fun and safe summer at camp.
Amy Patterson is a regular contributor to Very Best For Kids, writing mainly on child safety topics. From North Carolina, you will usually find her catching up on the latest news with locals or on the beach with her family. Besides safety, Amy also writes about health, fitness, wellness, and family.