By Barbara Pronin
Summer camp is a lot more than cookouts, crafts and sing-alongs. For many children, it’s a first taste of independence and an opportunity to learn new skills, expand social horizons and gain self-confidence.
Day camps are a great way to get your child ready for a longer, sleep-away experience—but when that time comes, it may be challenging for you to determine the best camp to send your child to.
Hundreds of summer camps are listed on the American Camp Association (ACA) website (acacamps.org), which offers these suggestions for narrowing your choice:
Start with Your Child’s Interests – Include your child in the search. If he or she likes performing, or has an interest in science or a particular sport, consider a camp with that focus. Consider, too, that he or she may prefer a camp that offers traditional programming with a variety of activities.
Consider Special Needs – Be sure the camp you choose can meet your child’s dietary or physical needs. If your child is 10 years old or younger, you may want to start with a one-week experience.
Choose the Right Locale – This can be especially important if you will be driving your child to and from camp or visiting during on Parents Day.
Do a Background Check – How long has the camp been operating? What percent of campers return to the camp each summer? Are references available from other parents? Is there an open house or information night you and your child can attend?
Remember the Budget… – …but don’t count your child out of desired but pricey options, because many camps offer financial aid.
Once you have narrowed your list of choices, camp personnel should be willing and available to answer questions you may have about transportation, insurance, physical exam requirements, optional expenses and more.
You can also call the ACA at 800-428-CAMP for additional information or recommendations.