Parents should look beyond glossy brochures and pretty website pictures when searching for summer camps. The safety, health, and satisfaction of children should be the camp’s top priority, and a great camp should be an enriching experience for your child.
When choosing a camp, parents need to use the same care and common sense they would use in evaluating a daycare program. Look for one that provides activities that are of interest to your child, matches their personality, and is appropriate for their age and skill level.
Some camps, such as those organized around a particular sport, are highly structured and stress the development of specific skills. Others are more flexible, and give campers the opportunity to choose some of their activities.
When you take the time to visit camps and inspect facilities, ask about the staff’s training and experience. Then, find out how they handle medical emergencies. Are medical facilities adequate? What are the safety rules, and how are they enforced? If your child is staying overnight, be sure to look at cabins, showers, and other facilities that they will be using. Fees and payment deadlines are important to know, too.
It’s also important to research how long a camp has been in business, and to check with parents of past and returning students. You can check the Better Business Bureau for the camp’s record on handling complaints.
Finally, look for camps that are certified by the American Camp Association. These ACA-accredited camps have met up to 300 nationally recognized standards.