How to Choose a Summer Camp

Story by Amanda Blair 

Summer camp is about more than silly songs and goofy games. It is an important and formative experience for kids, from numerous perspectives. It introduces them to children outside their current social circles, improves their confidence, and trains them for leadership. Camp also gives them the opportunity to participate in new activities, nurturing potential interests. It strengthens social skills, fosters character, and offers life-long memories. Plus, it gets them physically engaged and outside in the fresh air, boosting health and wellness.

There’s almost certainly a good summer camp for your child out there. The only challenge is figuring out which of the available options is best.

What does your child enjoy doing? Programs at camps will often appeal to certain types of personalities more than others — so success starts by understanding the need to find a camp that is the right fit. You don’t want to get your child excited about possibilities until you have had a chance to perform due diligence. However, you will need to involve them once you have some “finalists” with which you are comfortable.

What characteristics should you seek when looking at summer camps? Longevity is not necessary but is an attribute to consider. A good camp will generally have a background of years or even decades in operation. High-quality options will make it clear what types of activities are the points of focus. The activities might be diverse or fit within the theme of the camp, such as arts, leadership, or sports. A strong camp has options for integrating all the kids who come together into a supportive and friendly community. They will also have personnel in sufficient numbers so that the staff does not get overwhelmed — some sources recommend a 10-to-1 ratio for kids aged 8-14, though this can vary depending on the type of camp. The staff should all be background-checked as well.

Where does your child want to go? Once you have a few options to discuss with them, it is time to sit down and look through the offerings. Most high-quality camps will have full-featured websites with maps, photos, calendars, menus, and similar information. In reviewing this information and making the final selection collaboratively, they will become more comfortable with the idea of heading off to camp.

What are some final steps? If you think you have a camp that looks interesting, investigate it to make sure that it will be a safe and fulfilling environment that can live up to both your expectations. You can also learn a lot by going in person to visit the grounds. That is possible through site tours and open houses, typically available in the spring.

Once you have a camp that both meets your needs and feels like an exciting interpersonal learning experience to your child, check online reviews or speak with friends if you have not already. Having taken all these steps, you should be prepared to make a great choice that will help your child develop while building lasting memories.

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