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Top 8 Things to Consider When Looking for a Camp

By Jess Michaels

Thinking about day or overnight for your child? Besides learning new activities and making friends, camp provides children with the opportunity to gain important life skills such as independence, communication, critical thinking, and self-confidence. When starting to look for a camp, parents should look into the following at the camps they are interested in.  These considerations will help families make an informed decision about camp for their child.

  1. Camp Director – The camp director is the person who ultimately makes all final decisions at camp so it’s important to find out about who is running the camp.  When you choose a camp, you are forming a partnership with the camp director, so make sure you click with the director and feel  comfortable entrusting him or her with your child.
  2. Philosophy – Each camp has its own unique philosophy and you want to make sure the philosophy aligns with your own family’s values.  Make sure to ask the director what the camp’s philosophy is and how it is carried out at camp.
  3. Program – Ask about the camp program. Is it a structured or elective program?  What are the activities that are offered?  Think about what your must-have activities are and make sure the camp offers them.
  4. Staff & Staff Training – Ask about the age of the staff, experience, pre-season & on-going staff training, background checks, instructor qualifications and reference checks.   Also ask about whether there is pre-season & on-going staff training and if topics such as behavior management techniques, appropriate staff and camper behavior, child abuse prevention, water safety and emergency procedures are covered, among other topics.
  5. Safety – Inquiring about important safety aspects of camp is imperative.  Ask about staff training, medical personnel on camp, out of camp trips, weather emergency plans, active shooter emergency procedures and camp security, among other safety topics.  If you have questions about anything safety related, ask the director.  The director should be happy to answer any and all questions and if not, that should be a red flag.
  6. How camp handles issues – Find out how the camp handles common children’s issues such as bunk disagreements, bullying, homesickness, etc.  You want to make sure you feel good about how the camp handles certain situations that may arise during the summer.
  7. Special Considerations – If your child has special considerations, whether it’s food allergies, sleep issues or ADHD, ask how they handle similar issues.  Before choosing a camp, you want to make sure the camp can properly accommodate your child’s needs.
  8. Accreditation – Ask if the camp is Accredited by the American Camp Association, the only independent accrediting organization that reviews camp operations, focusing on health, safety and risk management aspects of a camp’s operation.  Accreditation is a parents’ best evidence of a camp’s commitment to safety.
 

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