By Mimi Greenwood Knight
It’ll Be Here Before You Know It
The words “summer camp” can stir up a mélange of memories—fun, fear, adventure, anxiety. Summer camp might mean homesickness, sunburn, mosquitoes, or dubious cuisine. But it can also mean bonfires, S’mores, pillow fights after lights out, unforgettable camp songs, cool teenage counselors, and maybe even a first kiss.
Camp exposes kids to things they don’t usually experience during the school year. There’s hiking, canoeing, horseback riding, rope courses, and archery. And it can introduce them to kids outside their own neighborhood and school system.
Summer camp can teach your child volumes about themselves, including lessons in:
- Making Friends
- Connecting with Nature
Selecting the Right Camp
With thousands of summer camps operating in this country each year, it’s important to the find the one that’s right for your child.
Make It a Family Decision
Give them a list of camps you’re considering, the benefits of each, and include them in deciding which is right for them.
The best camps can fill up as early as September the year before, so don’t wait to make your reservation.
Consider the Camp’s Philosophy
Ask for their mission statement and peruse their literature and website to see how the mission and philosophy of the camp harmonizes with your own.
Know the Size
How large is the facility? How many students are enrolled in each session? How are campers divided up? And what’s the camper to staff ratio?
Ask About the Staff
How long have the directors been at the helm and what are their priorities when selecting staff? Do they conduct background checks? What is the age and experience of the staff? What, in the camp’s opinion, makes for a good staff member?
Do Some Reading
What are online reviews saying? Why did members choose that camp and what did they feel were its top attributes? Read about the food, the staff, and the overall camp experience.
Consider the Cost
Higher cost may reflect a well-paid staff, the best camp equipment, high-end facilities, and a lower camper-to-staff ratio. But lower-cost camps can sometimes be supported by organizations that subsidize the camp to lower their fees. And some camps offer discounts for financially-strapped families.
Overnight camps close to home can lessen the experience of going “away to camp.” But day camps too far away can sometimes place a burden on parents.