You may feel like the dust hasn’t even begun to settle on the Christmas decorations in the attic, but it’s time to start thinking about summer!
Choosing the right summer camp for your child can be a daunting task, but summer camp can reap many rewards for both you and your child. Building friendships, developing interests and skills, experiencing new and exciting things and so much more—all of these things are benefits of summer camp.
What’s Most Important?
A good staff is the most important thing to look for in a camp, no matter what type of camp it is. Good staff can make rubbing two popsicle sticks together into a transformational event. Bad staff can make the greatest camp into a terrible experience. You should definitely be happy and comfortable with the staff at the summer camp of your choice. They should be responsive to your questions and balance the child and parent’s needs with the camp’s needs, as well.
As children get older, they develop special talents, skills, goals, and interests. That’s where specialized camps can make a huge positive impact. Band camp, drama camp, math camp, soccer camp and the like are all great ways for children to meet others with similar skills and interests, while developing their own.
Specialized camps aren’t necessarily for the most talented or goal-oriented kids. Specialized camp programs are also good for kids who don’t have a clear talent, because it’s a chance for them to discover one. It can be hard for children who don’t yet know what direction they should take. A camp is a great place to concentrate on learning a new skill, and they’ll go back to school with a new sense of their own talents.
Is Your Child Ready for Sleep-Away Camp?
It can be difficult to gauge whether or not your child is ready for a sleep-away camp, or if that’s even an option you should consider for your child. It starts with knowing your kids. Some kids are comfortable sleeping away at an earlier age. Others…less so. A child who enjoyed at least three sleepovers in a row during the previous school year might be ready for a sleep-away experience.
What to Ask
What are the basic questions a parent should ask when calling around to camps and visiting them? Here’s a checklist of questions to keep on the ready when you’re talking to the staff:
1. “What is the ratio of counselors to children?” The more counselors, the more likely the campers will be organized and monitored by staff.
2. “Is the staff CPR and first-aid certified?” Make sure there are certified staff members on hand.
3. “What is a typical week of camp like?” The answer should be clear and focused, and of course, it should sound interesting to your child.
4. “For an outdoor camp, what are the alternate arrangements or activities when it rains?” Be sure you are satisfied with the arrangements. Some summers can tend to be pretty rainy!
5. “Are there any field trips?” This is important to know in terms of your work schedule and as a learning experience for your child.
Overall, it should be easy to communicate with camp staff, and they should listen to your needs as a parent. One of the best things you can do is talk to other parents. Networking and word-of mouth is an important way for people to find out the best camps in their area. Like anything else in life, you have to trust your instincts, and remember that even the best laid plans don’t always work out.