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How to choose the right summer camp for your child

2024-06-14T12:00:52+00:00
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Choosing a summer camp for your child (Photo: Shutterstock)
  • Choosing a summer camp.
  • It can be a life-changing experience.
  • How to find the right fit.

Choosing a summer camp for your child can be a pivotal decision in their development and enjoyment of the summer months.

It’s about finding a balance between their interests, the camp’s ethos and the practicalities of location and cost.

With a variety of camps available — from sports and arts to academic and adventure — parents have a lot to consider to ensure their child gets the most out of their experience.

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Find a summer camp that reflects your child’s interests

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Photo: Shutterstock

Understanding your child’s interests and personality is the first step in choosing a camp that they will enjoy and benefit from.

If your child loves the outdoors, consider camps that focus on nature; if they are artistic, look for camps that specialize in music, art or drama.

It’s also important to think about whether your child thrives in large groups or might prefer a smaller, more intimate camp setting.

Matching the camp environment to your child’s temperament and interests can make the difference between a summer that is enjoyable and one that is merely endured.

Research the camp’s reputation and safety measures

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Photo: Shutterstock

The safety and reputation of the summer camp are paramount.

Start by checking if the camp is accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA), which ensures that the camp meets up to 300 health and safety standards.

It’s also wise to read reviews from other parents and, if possible, speak to them directly about their children’s experiences.

Knowing that a camp has a solid reputation for safety and happy campers will give you peace of mind.

Choosing a summer camp: Check staff qualifications and camper-to-staff ratio

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Photo: Shutterstock

The quality of staff at a summer camp is crucial to your child’s safety and the overall quality of the camp experience.

Ensure that the camp conducts background checks on all staff members and ask about the training they receive, particularly in areas like first aid and emergency management.

A favorable camper-to-staff ratio is also important because it ensures that your child will receive adequate supervision and attention.

Camps with a lower ratio often provide a more supportive and responsive environment, which can be especially beneficial for younger children or those trying camp for the first time.

Evaluate the camp’s facilities and activities

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Photo: Shutterstock

The facilities and range of activities offered by the camp should match your child’s needs and your expectations.

Visit the camp beforehand if possible to inspect the facilities and ensure they are safe and well-maintained.

Check whether the camp offers a diverse range of activities that can keep your child engaged and stimulate their development.

Additionally, consider how the camp structures its day, as a good balance of structured activities and free time can help children develop both their social skills and personal independence.

Understand the costs of summer camp

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Photo: Shutterstock

Choosing a summer camp involves taking price into account, and understanding what the fee includes is essential to evaluate its value.

Determine if extras like excursions, special equipment and transportation are included in the initial cost or if they are additional.

Some camps may also offer scholarships or sliding scale fees based on income, which can make more expensive camps accessible.

Knowing all the costs upfront will help you budget for the summer without unexpected expenses.

Check the return policy and flexibility

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Photo: Shutterstock

Understanding a camp’s policies on cancellations, refunds, and flexibility can save a lot of potential stress.

Some camps offer refunds or credits if your child is unable to attend due to illness or a change in plans, while others may not.

Knowing these policies beforehand will help you plan better and avoid any financial surprises if plans change.

It’s also useful to consider how flexible the camp is with pick-up and drop-off times, as this can greatly influence your daily summer schedule.

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