Choosing the right summer camp for your child can be a challenging and sometimes overwhelming task. Since there seems to be an endless variety of possibilities, it can be daunting to adapt the ideal camp to your child’s interests, personality, and full schedule. In addition, as a parent, you are responsible for ensuring that the camp you choose for your child is operated safely and appropriately for your child’s age and abilities.
Below is a checklist of camp choices that parents should consider when choosing summer camps for their children:
1. Identify the Camp’s Programme Priorities
Each camp has a different philosophy and program focus. Some camps encourage structured group activities, while others give campers more individual freedom in choosing and selecting the individual activities that appeal to them. Some camps offer purely traditional activities such as horse riding and archery. Others focus exclusively on sports, theatre or surfing. Perhaps your child would thrive in a competitive camp environment. However, another child might be better off participating in non-competitive camp activities. By knowing your child’s personality, interests, character traits, and learning style, you can better find the right camp for them.
2. Confirm that the Camp is Accredited by the American Camp Association
To receive accreditation from the American Camp Association (ACA), camps must meet up to 300 best practice industry standards. These standards cover things such as campers’ health, safety and program matters that are important to the operation of a camp.
3. Ask About the Camp Manager’s Background
To ensure that the camp manager is qualified, make sure he meets the minimum standards set by the ACA. These standards recommend that camp leaders have a bachelor’s degree, are at least 25 years old, have sound experience in camp management and have completed training in the last three years.
4. Determine the Ratio of Campervans to Supervisors
To ensure that your child receives the individual attention and care he or she needs for his or her age, compare the camp’s caregiver-to-caregiver ratio with ACA standards. For day camps, the general ratios range from 8:1 for 6, 7 and 8-year-olds, 10:1 for 9 to 14-year-olds, to 12:1 for campers aged 15 to 17 years. For sleeping bags, a ratio of 6:1 for 7- and 8-year-olds, 8:1 for 9- to 14-year-olds and 10:1 for campers aged 15 to 17 years is generally recommended.
(Please note that the above child to caregiver ratio standards are a general, minimal recommendation of ACA and may vary depending on the situation and/or conditions. In addition, there may be additional standards for specific programmes and/or activities for which stronger supervision may be useful if it is not required. Accordingly, you should use your own judgment and conduct your own research to decide what is appropriate for you and your child.)
5. Inquire About the Camp Staff
Your child’s caregivers can design or interrupt a child’s camp experience. In addition to facilitating camp activities, counselors serve as role models and should be reliable, trustworthy and enthusiastic in their role. For security reasons, counselors must have CPR and First Aid certification. They should also undergo a criminal background check prior to employment in the camp.
6. Accommodation of Special Requests
If your child has special needs due to an allergy or other illness, please ask if the camp is equipped for these special requirements for your child. Whatever the special position of your child, the camp is required to accommodate their needs to the best of their ability. If the camp is unable to accommodate a particular need that your child has, they will inform you and look into a possible alternative for you.
7. Learn How the Camp Deals with the Discipline
As in any organization, rules are required and the camp’s disciplinary approach should be communicated fairly and openly. Positive reinforcement, fair play, and an assertive role model are important things to look for. If penalties are imposed for certain offenses, the camp staff should apply them fairly, calmly, and without unnecessary criticism.
8. Check the Camp’s References
References can give you an insight into the experiences others have had in a warehouse, and they are an important way to check a warehouse’s track record and reputation. Before you decide on a warehouse, the warehouse managers should be ready to provide references on request.
Follow these eight steps and you should find yourself fully ready to send your child off to Summer Camp!