12 Things Parents Need to Know When Choosing a Summer Camp
There are a lot of considerations when it comes to picking a summer camp for your kids and we’ve narrowed it down to 12 areas that you need to know when your reading brochures and visiting websites.
Many camps start advertising in March so there should be plenty of time to do your research. We suggest collecting your information first before bringing it up with your kids.
1. Which type of camp is right for your kid?
- Day Camp (The kid attends for a set time only) or Residential Camp (The kid stays overnight)?
- General (Traditional camp program with a selection of programs and activities) OR
Specialized (Dedicated to a sport such as basketball or to an activity such as computers)?
- Is the camp co-ed? (Do boys and girls participate together?)
- Length of camp session? (One day, one week, two weeks, etc.)
- Will it fit in your budget?
2. Visit the camp:
- Is there an open house you can attend?
- Location? (How far from your home is it?)
- Check out the landscape. (Does it look safe or like a tornado just hit it?)
- Anything next door or nearby of a concern? (Factory, dump, bar, etc.)
- Is the waterfront clean and the water safe? (Is the public allowed in the area. Is the water tested regularly?)
- Meet the staff.
- Sleeping Quarters (Cabins or tents? Type of beds?)
- Washroom (Flush toilets and running water? Are showers available?)
- Dining Room & Kitchen (Are they clean?)
- Buildings (Well-kept or ready to fall down?)
4. Discover the camp’s history:
- Who owns and operates the camp?
- How long have they been in the camp business?
- Any bad history? (Closures for any reason; fatalities?)
- What accreditation do they have? (Member of any qualified organizations?)
- Can they provide references? (Actual parents you can contact?)
5. What does the camp fee include?
- Are there any hidden or additional fees? (Special equipment, clothing, etc. to purchase?)
- Is their financial assistance available? (Don’t be afraid to ask!)
- Is there pre and post camp supervision available? (For Day Camps: can you drop them off early and pick them up later? Is there an additional fee?)
6. Emergency and Medical Care:
- Nurse on staff or nearby? (Located on site or nearby and availability?)
- Doctor on staff or nearby? (Located on site or nearby and availability?)
- Does the staff have first aid and/or emergency training? (What level and from which organization?)
- Are first aid/CPR kits available throughout?
- What is the procedure if your kid becomes ill or is injured?
- How is medicine dispensed, when and by who?
7. Daily Schedule and Program:
- How long are the programs? (What is the daily schedule?)
- Is their sufficient rest/quiet time?
- Is their sufficient free time?
- For Residential Camps: Wake up and Lights out?
- Are all equipment and supplies included?
8. Activities Available:
- For Specialized Camps: are there other activities available? (Example: At computer camp, is their time to play games or go for a swim?)
- Do the kids have activity choices? (What kind of activity choices do they have?)
- Is there a designated swimming area?
- How many lifeguards are posted?
- What is the minimum qualification for the lifeguards?
- Do they have emergency procedures in place? (First aid kit, spinal board, motorized boat?)
- What condition is the equipment in? (Boats, canoes, life jackets, docks etc.)
10. Special Attention & Needs:
- Accessible for physical disabilities? (Ramps, railings, equipment, etc.)
- For Residential Camps: Bed Wetting and Sleep Walking? (How are these situations handled?)
- Are all meals provided? (For Day Camps: Do the kids bring a lunch or do they have to purchase their meals?)
- What is the condition of the kitchen/food preparation area? (Has it passed the local health inspection standards; Proper food storage such as refrigerators; Proper food preparation equipment such as stoves?)
- Is there a sample menu to view? (Is it nutritional balanced? Has it been approved by a qualified dietician?)
- Can special diets be accommodated? (Diabetic, allergies, Kosher, lactose intolerant, peanut allergies, etc.)
- Kitchen staff experience and training? (Are they aware and follow proper food preparation methods and standards?)
- Is a snack available? (Is it available or can the camper bring their own?)
12. Counselors and Staff:
- Age, experience, qualifications? (Adults or teenagers and their experience and qualifications)
- Training? (What type do they receive?)
- Ratio of Counselors to Kids? (The closer the ratio the better)
- Police or Security check? (If not, why not?)