Choosing a summer camp doesn't have to be stressful for you or your child. You'll need to consider several important points before you make the final decision. For example, what type of camp are you looking for? How much are you willing to spend? What kind of programs will be offered? You should consider all of these factors in order to make a wise choice.
- Day Camp-Many local organizations offer day camps throughout the summer break. These organizations may be affiliated with churches, the YMCA, or the Boys and Girls Club, among others. Although your child won't be staying overnight, there are still several very important issues to consider, and the most important one is supervision. What qualifications do the camp counselors and aides have? Are they experienced? Do they have college degrees or other training? Are they certified in CPR and first aid techniques? What is the ratio of children to counselors? Of course, you'll also need to find out if the hours of the camp are compatible with your schedule, and don't forget to ask about the cost.
- Overnight Camp-If your child is old enough to go to an overnight camp, there are several issues you'll need to check out. Before you begin, though, it's always a good idea to have a discussion with your child about what type of camp he or she will enjoy. Does your child have particular hobbies or interests, such as music, academics, horseback riding, hiking, or other sports? If so, you can typically find specialty camps which focus on the particular interests of young people. If not, there are still many general camps available that offer a wide range of activities for boys and girls.
- Special Needs-There are also many camps that are available for children with special needs. Many of these camps are run by volunteers through donations or government grant money, and that means there is usually no cost to the family of a special needs child.
- Coed-You'll need to decide if you want your child to attend a coed camp or a same gender camp. While the coed camp generally offers some separate activities for girls and boys and they typically stay in separate areas of the camp, there is usually quite a lot of interaction between the boys and girls. This can be a good social experience for boys and girls, but same gender camps work well, too.
- Cost-This is a big issue. Church-sponsored camps can be very economical, but they may not offer enough instruction or last long enough to suit you and your child. Privately owned camps may offer more individualized instruction, but keep in mind that these camps will probably cost quite a bit more. The amount of time your child stays will also affect the cost of the camp. Privately run camps can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand. You'll also need to find out what the camp's refund policy is in the event your child can't attend.
- Size-You'll also need to consider the size of the camp your child will attend. Small camps may only accommodate a hundred or so, while larger camps may house more than 500 children. Be sure you ask about the ratio of campers per counselor no matter how large or small the camp is. Proper supervision is the key to a successful camp experience!
- Location-While your child may be staying at camp for a week or more, the location of the camp is still important. Do you plan on visiting your child? Do you have transportation for your child to and from the camp? Will you have to stay the night in a local hotel on visits to the camp? If so, figure this in as an added expense.
- Emergencies-How will emergencies be handled? Is there a certified nurse on staff? How far away is the nearest hospital? Are staff members trained to handle medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, etc.?
- Programs-Finally, what type of programs are offered at the camp? Are you allowed to see a schedule of events? This is important. You'll want to know just what kind of activities your child will participate in on a daily basis. All of these areas must be addressed before you can make an educated and well-informed decision regarding your child's camp.