Asking Questions Before Choosing a Camp Can Ensure a Safe and Happy Camp Experience
BY OLYA FESSARD UPDATED APRIL 2019
With summer around the corner, parents and kids are beginning to wonder how they’ll be spending this free time. Will summer camp be an option? lf so, it’s time for the big hunt. When searching for the right camp, it’s important for parents to try to match their child’s interests and abilities with the right setting whether you’re looking at day camps or sleepaway camps. Talk to other parents and friends about their recommendations. Even more importantly, talk to your child about what kind of summer camp she’s interested in.
Questions for Both
Day & Overnight Camps
Once you’ve narrowed your selection to two or three camps, visit them if possible. Many camps offer Open House days. A personal visit can provide far more information about a camp than a website, telephone call, brochure, or video can. Incidentally, visiting when the camp is active in the summer is the ideal way to find a camp for the following summer.
If you can’t make the visit at all, make sure you approach the camps you are interested in with all the right questions, whether in person or by email. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s only logical. After all, the camp will have your child in their hands for a significant amount of time. You want to make sure he or she is in capable and safe hands. Help your child have a happy camping experience by asking these questions before you sign up. Questions with stars are absolute musts.
H What is the camp’s overall philosophy? Make sure it is compatible with your own.
F How long has it been in business? Who owns the camp?
F How much does the camp cost? Are there additional fees for special activities or supplies?
F Does the camp offer financial assistance? Are there discounts for siblings or registering early?
F Is the camp coed or for girls or boys only? Is it divided by ages?
F What would a typical day be like?
F How competitive are the activities?
F How much equipment and resources are available for each child? For example, if your child wants to ride a horse each day, will he be given the opportunity?
F Are there special uniforms? If so, how much do they cost and what is the refund policy?
F How competitive are the activities?
F How much equipment and resources are available for your child? For example, if your child wants to ride a horse each day, will he be given the opportunity?
F Are there special uniforms required? If so, how much do they cost and what is the refund policy?
H How much supervision is there? The American Camp Association (ACA) recommends:
5 years & younger 1 staff fmember for every 5 overnight campers and 1 staff member for every 6 day campers
6–8 years 1:6 for overnight, and 1:8 for day
9–14 years 1:8 for overnight and 1:10 for day
15–18 years 1:10 for overnight and 1:12 for day
H What are the staff’s qualifications and ages? ACA recommends that 80% or more of the counseling staff be at least 18 years old. Staffers must be at least 16 years old and be at least two years older than the campers with whom they work.
F Who teaches specialized areas such as swimming, rock climbing, sailing, dance, etc., and what are their qualifications?
F What type of medical staff does the camp offer? How are emergencies handled? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that overnight camps with more than 50 kids have an onsite registered nurse with access to a supervising physician for overnight campers and that day camps have direct phone access to a physician.
F How is discipline handled?
F How are conflicts between campers resolved?
F Are disabled or special needs children accepted at camp? Are they separated or mainstreamed into camp life?
F What kind of food is served? Gourmet meals, basic camp rations, junk food?
F How does a camp accommodate for kids with food allergies?
F What happens in case of inclement weather?
H Will the camp be transporting children? What kind of vehicles will be used? Who is driving? What safety checks are in place?
More Questions for
F Are campers responsible for jobs around camp?
F How are the responsibilities divided?
F How often is laundry done? Do campers do their own?
F How does the camp handle homesickness?
F How are counselors screened, hired, and trained?
F Who supervises this training and supervises the counselors on a day-to-day basis?
F What is the counselor turnover from year to year?
F Are there any special packing instructions, such as specific clothing, bedding, and/or special equipment?
F What is the camp’s safety record? #