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Finding the Right Summer Camp for Your Child

Summer Camp Fair Season has started and I know that finding and choosing the right camp for your child can be a difficult decision - which is why I put together this guide of things to consider.

We know that choosing a summer camp for your child is an important decision. There are many wonderful camps to choose from, but selecting the right one for your child and your family can be difficult. All Camps are not alike and meet many different goals but here are some of our best tips for asking the right questions and finding the right camp for you and your child this summer.

 Things to Consider

  • What type of camp are you looking for? Do you prefer a day camp for your child? Or would you prefer a residential camp experience where your child gets to sleep away from home? Age may play a big factor in this but how much of the day do you want your child to spend at camp? Half day, full day, or a week long sleep away camp? Longer program sessions allow campers to adjust, get comfortable and develop skills but shorter sessions also mean more variety for children.
  • What activities are you looking for at camp? What are your child’s particular interests? Do you have an active child that prefers outdoor activities like sports, swimming, and canoeing? Or is your child more interested in the Arts and Sciences, preferring an intellectual camp experience with an emphasis on arts, crafts, or technology? Camp can allow children the opportunity to spent time doing an activity they love or it can often mean they get to try something completely different and uncover a new passion or hobby.
  • Location- Do you want your child to be near to home? Is transportation to and from camp important to you? Do you want the camp to be outdoors taking advantage of the summer weather or at an indoor facility?

Once you have considered this information, we often recommend parents use a great tool offered by the American Camp Association - the ACA Find a Camp Tool. This will help you narrow your search based on your preferences above and will help you find an ACA accredited camp near to you. Here are some more tools that can help you decide on a camp:

 Helping you Decide

  • Camp Fairs- Attend a Camp Fair and see if some of the camps have a booth so you can pick up informational brochures and ask questions about their programs.
  • Open Houses and Camp Tours- If you have narrowed down your search then maybe its time to take a closer look at the camps you have in mind. Go out with your child and meet with the camp directors and staff, check out their locations and site and see for yourself what makes them unique or suitable for you and your family. Ask about the activities they provide for their campers, and how this fits with your child’s interests and expectations.

 Questions to Ask

  • Philosophy of the Camp- Are they a good fit for you and your family? Do they hold the values you look for in a camp? 
  • Safety Record and Procedures- What is their plan of action should a child have an accident while at camp? Would you feel comfortable leaving your child in their care? Do their staff have safety qualifications?
  • Cost and Payment Options- Are there any savings you can take advantage of, such as sibling discounts, early registration discounts or refer a friend? Does the camp provide different payment plans that allow you to spread payments over monthly installments?
  • Referrals from Friends and Online- Do you know anyone whose child attends camp? What do they have to say about the camp they attend? What made them choose that camp in particular? Are there any reviews online? What do other campers and camper parents have to say about the camp you are considering?

These questions may help you narrow your decision and point out what to look for when choosing a camp, but ultimately you are the best judge for what is best for your child.

For more tips on finding the right camp see the American Camp Association Find A Summer Camp Tool.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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