As you consider your summer camp options, be sure to ask yourself these questions:
1. Is the camp accredited? The American Camp Association (www.acacamps.org) is the accrediting body for camps, including summer camps. When looking for a summer camp, the American Camp Association camp database is a good place to start. American Camp Association summer camps meet industry-accepted and government-recognized standards and are dedicated to enriching the lives of children through the camp experience.
2. Will the camp interest your child? When considering camp options, you’ll want to consider the personality and interests of your child. While some children may love the idea of sleepover camp, others won’t. You’ll also want to consider your child’s interests. If your child loves sports, consider looking at sports camps. If she loves drama, consider looking at a program that fosters the arts.
3. Is the cost within your budget? Summer camps can cost from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars per week. You’ll want to carefully consider the cost of camp before making a commitment. In addition to the cost of the camp, don’t forget to factor in any transportation costs if the camp isn’t local.
4. What is the camp philosophy? Are you comfortable with the governing principles or the camp? Is the camp faith based? Does the camp endorse a celebrity you support? Carefully consider the message the camp will deliver to your child and be sure you support it.
5. What is the return rate? Do campers come once to never come back? Do they return year after year? What about the staff? Is it retained year after year? Knowing what percent of campers and staff return to the camp may give you insight into how vested others are in the camp.
6. Can the camp handle your child’s needs? Before signing your high needs child up for summer camp, you’ll want to be sure the staff can adequately meet his needs. Ask lots of questions and be sure to get references before committing to sending your child.
7. What’s the daily schedule like? Consider the camp’s daily schedule and your child’s temperament. If your child strives on structure, you may want a summer camp with a strict routine. If your child needs down time, you’ll want to choose a camp that leaves plenty of time for relaxing.
Summer camp is meant to be a safe and fun experience. If you do your research and select the right camp for your child, chances are it will be.