7 Things To Look For When Choosing A Camp
When choosing a camp, it is important to consider your child’s interests and personality so you can find the program that will be the most beneficial. Look at the website. Ask for references from parents in the area. And, since your child will be the one attending, be sure to include him or her in the decision making process:
1. Is the day camp accredited by the American Camp Association and how long has it been in business?
ACA accreditation means the camp has undergone a thorough (up to 300 standards) review of its operation from staff qualifications to emergency management and has been given the seal of approval. This accreditation lets you know your child will be in a safe, positive environment with healthy, developmentally appropriate activities and learning experiences, caring, competent role models, and opportunities for leadership and personal growth.
2. What are the qualifications of the counselors? What is the counselor-camper ratio?
Counselors should be experienced, energetic, nurturing teachers, who truly enjoy working with children. Expect a head counselor, junior counselor and C.I.T. (counselor in training), along with instructors for specialty programs. There should be a 5-1 ratio, which can be a little higher in the older groups.
3. Is the price all-inclusive or are there extra charges for trips, lunch, extended care, transportation or anything else?
Make sure you know what is included and that there won’t be any surprises. If trips are extra, find out before you make your decision.
4. Is transportation is offered? Is it door-to-door or where is the closest pick-up location?
Door-to-door transportation is easier, more convenient and requires a lot less coordination. It means you won’t have to pack up your child and drive to a bus stop in the morning, wait at one at the end of the day and worry if there is traffic and you don’t make it in time.
5. Is daily swim instruction offered or just recreational swimming?
Swim instruction is a critical component of camp and should be part of the daily schedule because it is a vital life saving skill that will benefit children forever. Ask what the camp’s philosophy is regarding swim instruction, what the lessons include and if there are demos or races where you can come see your child’s progress.
6. What is the daily/weekly schedule? Will the activities appeal to your child and hold his/her interest for the entire session? What is offered on rainy days?
Each day there should be swim lessons and activities that are fun, challenging and geared to the age of your child. If competition is part of an activity, it should not be over emphasized and should be handled in a professional way to ensure all children feel like winners. Repeating the same program five straight days creates boredom and makes children restless. So be sure there is a good balance of activities, a chance to try many new things and a schedule that has enough variety to remain interesting. In addition, there should be on-site facilities and/or trips to places like indoor amusement parks, sports arenas, bowling, mini golf and trampoline parks that make camp fun even if rains.
7. Is there an open house where parents and children can see what the program is like, talk to the staff and meet other campers who will be attending?
An open house with other new and existing families gives you a better idea of what the camp will really be like, who your child’s counselor will be and what campers your child will have a chance to meet. It gives you a chance to make a more educated decision if the camp will be the right match.