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Every week, join Sydney Waters as she helps you navigate life as a smart consumer. You'll cover everything in avoiding the latest scams, including phishing emails, medical equipment fraud, understanding layaway, hiring a reputable tax preparer, and even digital spring cleaning. Add to your toolbox and flip through your Consumer Handbook Thursdays during NPR’s Morning Edition at 6:42 a.m. and 8:42 a.m., only on KRCU.

Consumer Handbook: Finding a Safe Summer Camp

Teenage girl (17 years) helping children in kayak (8-9 years). Main focus on camp counselor and little girl in front.
kali9/Getty Images
Teenage girl (17 years) helping children in kayak (8-9 years). Main focus on camp counselor and little girl in front.

Summer camp is a safe environment for kids to develop social skills, grow a bit of independence, and experience the outdoors. At a top-quality camp, parents should be able to trust the staff with their children's health and safety so everyone can focus on having a great summer.

When you’re choosing a summer camp, use the same level of care that you would in choosing a childcare provider — after all, your child will be spending all day there, and possibly staying overnight. BBB recommends you do your research before paying to make sure the camp is run by a trusted organization with a good track record.

Tips to help your child have a safe, fun summer at camp:

  • Ask your child what activities they’re interested in. This is the first and best way to ensure your child will have a good experience at camp. Weigh their interests and personality along with the structure and intensity of activities at the camp.
  • Look for trustworthy camps that are accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA) or by BBB. ACA accredited camps must meet 32 national summer camp standards.
  • It can be reassuring to have a recommendation from someone you know and trust. Ask friends and family for suggestions. You can also ask the camp if they have a list of past campers who are willing to give references. Check the location of the camp and view the living, eating and recreational facilities and take the opportunity to meet the staff.
  • Individual states have their own health and safety guidelines for summer camps, and all will follow CDC recommendations. Ask about the camp’s safety standards, particularly for water activities, archery, and out-of-camp trips.
  • Ask how you will be contacted in case of an emergency and what medical resources the camp has on-site. Some camps have specific processes for children who need daily medication, so be sure to find out how the camp can accommodate your child’s specific needs.
  • Look into the camp director and staff’s background. Ask how the staff are trained, if background checks are conducted and the ratio of campers to staff.
Sydney Waters is the new Regional Director of Better Business Bureau in Cape Girardeau and responsible for outreach efforts in Southern Illinois and Eastern and Southwest Missouri.