There are so many ways you can invest in the happiness and healthy development of your child. Summer camp is one of the key experiences that can help your child be successful in the whole business of growing up well in today’s world. Your child will not only make lifelong friends and have amazing memories but the right camp will help campers gain confidence, build character, gain new skills and not simply be attached to a mobile device for months.
However, with so many options, how does a parent make the best choice for their child? The good news is there are camps to meet every passion, schedule, and wish for every parent and camper.
Here are seven tips to make your important decision a little easier in order to rest easy knowing you have made the right choice for a great summer not only for your child but also for you.
- START WITH YOUR CHILD
The American Camping Association wisely recommends to carefully consider your child and involve them in the decision. Together you can have fun going to camp open houses and exploring websites or going on camp tours. It is important to also challenge your child to step out of their comfort zone and try some new activities. Many camps have a general program where campers can experience a wide range of activities, experiences, and opportunities as well as specialty camps that focus on one area.
- LOOK FOR SAFETY AND SECURITY YOU CAN REST EASY WITH
When you send your child off to camp each day you want to be confident and relaxed that your camper will be surrounded by trained counselors and well thought out programs developed with safety in mind. Ask about the camp’s health center and what is the staff to camper ratio. The American Camp Association has a website of camps (http://find.acacamps.org/ ) that have met over 300 standards that go beyond the state, county, and federal regulations. When you choose an accredited camp you ensure that any questions you may have about safety have been answered by a national organization ensuring the quality of programs for over 100 years.
- WHAT DOES THE CAMP OFFER FOR CONVENIENCE AND FLEXIBILITY.
What are your needs in terms of schedule and transportation? Here are some important questions to ask to make sure the camp is a good fit for your schedule. How often can you make changes? Is there a parent liaison to assist you in making changes to your schedule if you need to pick up your camper later or early. Are there extended day options in both the morning and afternoons? Is there transportation options in your area? You deserve a stress-free summer as well.
- DO YOUR RESEARCH AND LOOK FOR CAMPS WITH POSITIVE ONLINE REVIEWS
THANKS TO THE WIRED WORLD we live in today you can check out google reviews to see what past families have said about the camp. The higher the number of reviews the more likely the accuracy of the reviews. What a parent should look for is a majority of positive or negative reviews in order to gain a good picture of what the camp is like. Many camps can also provide you with some families who you can call who can give you their experience with the camp and answer questions from a customer perspective. You can also reach out to your friends and cyber buddies for information.
- ASK THE CAMP LEADERSHIP THE RIGHT QUESTIONS
CALL OR EMAIL THE CAMP some or all of these important and relevant questions.
- What is a typical day like at camp
- How long and what pre-camp training does the staff receive on safety and issues related to working with children and youth
- What screenings are done on staff?
- How long has the leadership been at the camp?
- How are medications handled at camp?
- How do you handle issues that might arise with my camper
- What do you do to ensure my child will succeed at camp and find friends
- CHOOSE A CAMP WITH AN INTENTIONAL LEARNING PHILOSOPHY
What makes camp great is fun-filled adventures every day. However, the right camps are intentional about giving opportunities to experience growth in all the developmental domains: social, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Campers may grow out of their camp t-shirt but should never grow out of courage, compassion and life skills learned at camp. The director should be able to articulate well not only the daily activities but the developmental outcomes for every camper.
- FINALLY…DON’T STRESS ABOUT NOT FINDING THE “PERFECT CAMP”
Summer is a great time for fun and learning about life in a less structured time than the school season. We all need a break and summer gives us the needed pause in our busy culture. We all do better when we feel better and summertime should be a memory of feeling better. Process the highs and lows of your child’s experience at camp and you will both look back on the summer with memories that will last a lifetime.