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Tuesday, June 10, 2008
How to Find the Right Summer Camp

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By Grace Chen

Summer camps can be a great way to entertain your children during the summer when there is no school. They allow children to engage in fun activities, learn new skills, and make new friends. However, in order for your child to get the most fun out of summer camp, you have to find the right one.

Every Child Is Unique

Finding the right summer camp for your child means taking into consideration their likes and needs. The summer camp that is perfect for one child may be torture for another. Allowing your child to be part of the decision process can also help them to get more excited about the process. There are several elements to consider when making your decision:

  • Your Child’s Current Loves and Talents. Your budding sports star probably won’t enjoy going to an arts and crafts camp, but basketball camp might be perfect. Or, if your child doesn’t have a favorite activity, look for a camp that offers a wide variety of new things to try. If they love swimming, a camp with water trampolines and water ski lessons is a great option.

  • How Well Your Child Does Alone. If this is the first time your child has participated in activities outside of the home, an overnight camp might not be the best place to start. Day camps can be a better alternative for first time campers. If your little boy or girl is more of a loner, an art camp might provide fun experiences, while more social children will enjoy games like group parachuting.

  • Personality. Shy children will usually do better at a small camp or a large camp that breaks into small groups for activities. Make sure that your camp of choice will take into consideration your child’s personality so that all children can participate equally.

Researching the Camp

Considering your own child is just part of the camp decision process. You will also want to conduct research on the camp itself before making your final decision. Consider talking to the camp director, counselors, and/or previous attendees of the camp before you decide. Keep in mind several factors in this research process:

  • The Staff. You want to make sure that the camper to staff ratio is sufficient to meet your child’s needs. You will also want to look at the experience of the staff and how they are trained. A good indication of how successful the camp is with their staff is to ascertain how many staffers return each year. You will also want see how the staff enforces the rules and handles first aid to make sure that their philosophies are similar to your own (or at least something that you can live with).

  • Policies for Health and Safety. Keeping your child safe should always be the camp’s top priority. Ask about lifeguards for waterfront and pool areas, the type of first aid and health care available, and what the camp does in the case of an emergency. If your child has food allergies, ask to see the menu to make sure that it will be safe for them to eat, and if not, find out if they offer alternatives.

  • The Programs. Even if a camp is safe, it may not be fun for your child if they do not offer entertaining activities. Ask for an events schedule for the camp, as well as a daily schedule. This will give you an idea of how the camp is run, as well as great activities that will excite your child.

  • Take a Tour and Get References. Lastly, take a look at the camp for yourself and talk to people who have been there. Summer camps can vary vastly as to the amenities and services they offer, so make sure that you are comfortable with your child attending and that your child is comfortable staying. Getting references from previous campers will help you to ensure that the camp will meet your needs.

Summer camp can be a great experience, filled with fun learning and lasting memories. By taking your child’s interests into consideration, along with the credibility and reputation of the camp, you can give your child a fun, learning summer of a lifetime.

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