How To Find a Great Summer Camp

It won’t be long before school lets out–are you ready for a summer of unoccupied children? Does summer break mean they are unsupervised at home or running back and forth among friend’s houses with little structure or routine? What are the alternatives?

Have you considered camp? The American Camp Association asserts that “camp experiences often increase a child’s confidence, self-esteem, social skills, independence, leadership qualities, adventurousness, and positive connections to nature.” Their website details information about scholarships and financial assistance (seek specific information from individual camps, but the sooner you apply the better!) .

Worried that your child is not ready for such and adventure? Consider these guidelines from ACA’s “Preparing for Camp” page:

  • Is your child 7 or older? If not, look for a day camp in your area.
  • Does your child demonstrate an inclination toward camp? Is she or he excited about the idea? If so, this is a strong indication that camp is a reasonable option.
  • How have other overnight experiences gone with your child?

Simply Afterschool provides addition questions to ponder, such as, how much time does your child prefer to spend indoors rather than outdoors? What are the methods of the camp’s security? What is the child to supervisor ratio and the people to space ratio?

iD Tech suggests that you begin your search with one question: “What do you want your child to gain from the experience?” From there, narrow your criteria to traditional or academic camps. Traditional camps are for those hoping for nature and outdoor activities. Academic camps can be an excellent supplement to the school curriculum and/or a particularly good option for pre-college teens.

Barbara Rowley, writing for Parenting, was a frequent camper herself but her daughters were reluctant. She advocates camps that have been in operation for decades–preferable with the same staff, as the history underscores commitment, tradition, and knowledge. What is the camp’s philosophy? How does it reflect the traits you are looking for? Does it reflect an established community? Do the planned activities offer choice? How are communications handled between camp and parents? Ask the camp if they are ACA accredited (this will give an idea of the standards they have been required to meet.)

If you become overwhelmed in your research and begin questioning why you are sending your child to camp in the first place, read through some of the reasons in Sunshine Parenting. Among their reasoning is the fact that “schools aren’t doing a very good job of teaching kids grit, perseverance, and leadership.”

Where will your kids be going this summer?