BY PEGGY MIDDENDORF MAY 2018
CHOOSE THE RIGHT CAMP BASED ON THESE A TO Z TOPICS
Summer is right around the corner, so parents need to decide what to do with the kids while they work and what their kids should be doing if they are staying at home with them. After a year, of a structured school environment filled with constant activity, staying at home where there is a lot of free time and not a lot of ideas with what to do with it, gets old fast.
Most moms and dads do not relish the role of becoming an activities director for their child. Nor do they want to hear the phrase, “I’m bored!” incessantly. Luckily, there is an alternative—day camp. With so many camps run by such a large variety of organizations (schools, day care centers, churches, gyms, and extracurricular activity places like art, dance, karate, swim, and sport instruction groups), how can parents decide what type of camp is best for their child? Here are questions covering everything from A to Z that can assist parents in making this difficult and important decision.
Ask your child what type of camp she is interested in this summer. What Ages does the camp accept?
Write for Brochures or flyers from camps your child is interested in. Also, check to find if the camp has a website. Read and compare to narrow down your hunt.
What does the camp Cost? Is that per week or per session? Is this fee all inclusive? Does the fee include field trips, special supplies, or materials fees? How much of a deposit is required to hold your child’s place at camp? What is the refund policy should you or your child change his mind? Is the camp Co-ed or a single sex camp?
How is Discipline handled? Are Disabled or special needs children accepted at camp? Are they separated or main-streamed into camp life? What are the qualifications of the Director? What experience does she have in dealing with children and/or running a summer camp?
How much Equipment and resources are available for your child? If your child desperately wants to ride horses each day, divide the number of horses by the number of kids using them for an idea of the amount of time your child can use that resource. Does the camp offer Extended hours? Is there extra cost for this service? How does the camp deal with EMERGENCIES?
Does the camp offer Financial assistance? Does it protect campers with Food allergies?
What are the camp Goals and philosophies? Make sure they jive with your own.
What are the camp Hours? A 9 a.m. to 12 noon camp doesn’t help a full-time working parent much. Make sure the hours fit your schedule as well as your child’s interests.
Does the camp offer Insurance, or does the child need to be covered under your personal policy?
Are individual campers responsible for Jobs around camp? How are these responsibilities divided and rotated?
What Kind of activities would your child like to participate in at camp? Her answers will help determine if parents should be looking for a specialty camp (such as dance, art, gymnastics, computer, or music) or a general summer-fun type camp.
Location, location, location. Is the day camp close to home or on the way to work? Is Lunch and/or breakfast included in the weekly fee?
What type of Medical staff does the camp offer? How are medical emergencies handled? A nurse on staff may be fine for most day camps, but a weight-loss camp or a camp catering to children with cancer might need a doctor on staff at all times.
What are the Number of children per group? How are the groups divided—by age, gender, skill level, or other criteria?
Are there activity Options available at camp? Can you tailor a program for your child? Can your child get the skill-building he needs?
What is the Penalty for picking your child up late? What system does the camp have so that your child is only picked-up by people you have pre-designated?
Questions, questions, questions. Don’t be afraid to ask the camp director any question. After all, he and his staff are assuming the responsibility for your child.
Ask for local References, and call them. Ask the parents about their child’s camp experience as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the camp. Call a camp referral service. These services provide information on a multitude of camps, at no cost to parents. What is the Ratio of staff to campers? The American Camping Association (ACA) recommends one staff member to each six children ages 7–8; one to eight for 9–14 year olds; and one to ten for ages 15–17. Is a Religious atmosphere important to you?
What are the Staff’s qualifications and ages? The ACA recommends 80% of the staff be 18 years or older. Ask for a typical camp Schedule. What is the camp’s Safety record?
What Training does the staff undergo? Who supervises this training and the counselors on a day-to-day basis? What is the Turnover in counselors from summer to summer or month to month?
What about Umbrella weather? With so many of the camp’s activities dependent on the sun shining, what does the camp offer for inclement weather?
Visit a camp beforehand, if possible. Visiting during a summer session is the best opportunity for parents to view the program in progress. Can parents Volunteer to help at the camp? Will this result in a reduced or free tuition for their child?
Who is the teacher for classes in specialized areas such as swimming, computers, dance, horseback riding, gymnastics, art, etc.?
How long has the camp been in eXistence? Who owns the camp? What is its background, and in which direction does the camp director see it going?
Does the camp offer a program for Youth counselors in-training for older campers? In some cases, youth counselors in-training may have a reduced tuition or attend camp for free.
Zip into the summer with a day camp program that you and your child will find safe and enjoyable. #