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Consumer Handbook: Finding a safe, rewarding summer camp for children

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Demand for summer camps is surging as COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed. Parents should look beyond glossy brochures and pretty website pictures when searching for the right camp for their child. The safety, health and satisfaction of children should be the camp’s top priority.

When choosing a camp, parents need to use the same care and common sense they would use in evaluating a day care program. They should look for a camp that provides activities that are of interest to their child and appropriate for the child’s age and skill level.

Parents need to take time to visit camps to inspect facilities, ask about the staff’s training and experience and find out how the camp handles medical emergencies. If the child is staying overnight, be sure to look at cabins, showers and other facilities that your child will be using. The standards for day and overnight camps may be different, but each should put your child’s safety and well-being first.

BBB offers the following tips for parents searching for the right camp for their child.

Always visit the camp before submitting your deposit. Check its location and view the living, eating and recreational facilities. Ask about safety procedures (particularly for water activities, archery and out-of-camp trips) and assess the quality and commitment of the staff.

Ask about fees and payment deadlines. Is your deposit refundable?
What is the camp director’s background? How is the staff trained?
Are criminal checks made for employees and volunteers?

Are medical facilities adequate? Is a nurse or doctor on site? What are the procedures for transporting injured or sick children to medical facilities? Are those facilities nearby? Does the camp have appropriate insurance coverage?

Finally, look for camps that are certified by the American Camp Association. ACA-accredited camps have met up to 300 nationally recognized standards.

Cape Girardeau native Whitney Quick is the Regional Director of Better Business Bureau in Cape Girardeau, MO, and is responsible for outreach efforts in Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois. Quick is a graduate of Cape Girardeau Central High School and Southeast Missouri University where she majored in public relations. Quick enjoys helping educate consumers in the southeast Missouri region by sharing consumer tips with groups and educating them about BBB’s resources.
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