July 22, 2024

10 game-changing strategies for finding the right summer camp

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(BPT) - With the days growing longer and warmer, securing a suitable camp for your child can feel like an impossible task. However, finding the perfect camp experience for your kid this summer doesn't have to be daunting with these top 10 considerations.

1. Your child's interests
As parents, you know your child best and can determine which camp experience makes the most sense. But remember to include your child in the process. Decisions about camp are family choices and should be a joint venture; they can help support a more successful camp experience.

2. Accredited camps
Always look for a day or overnight camp that is accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA). When a camp is accredited, it means they've gone through a thorough, voluntary process that supports the health and safety of all campers and staff. ACA collaborates with experts from national youth-serving organizations to guide the practices and policies at your child's camp, reflecting the most up-to-date, research-based standards in camp operation.

3. Your child's needs
Are you looking for a program that supports your child's personality and learning style? Does your camper have certain medical requirements, mental health considerations or dietary restrictions? Understanding the strengths in a camp's focus or programming may help you make your choice. It's also important to understand that most camps prohibit kids' access to technology or the internet while at camp. Have an honest and open conversation with your child about this prior to registering.

4. Character development
Many camps are run with an intrinsic focus on character-building skills and traits that help kids grow up to be successful adults. Look for camps talking about this in their mission, staff training and program design. ACA's recent National Impact Study found that camp experiences support social connectivity, creating communities where young people feel safe, heard and like they belong.

5. Staff training
When researching a camp, ask questions! What kind of training do counselors receive? What types of screening do they require? What is the counselor-to-camper ratio? What are the ages of staff members? The same qualities of trustworthiness and dependability sought by any employer are valued skills and experiences in camp staff.

6. Camp philosophy, policies and procedures
Each camp has its own method of constructing programs based on its philosophy. Does it complement your own parenting philosophy? Ask camp directors about their communication policies. How do they handle homesickness and other adjustment issues? How are behavior and disciplinary problems handled? What is the camp's dress code?

7. Length and location
Location can be a major factor in choosing a camp. Do you want to attend a camp close to home or in another state? Similarly, think about the length of the camp session. Do you want a short session for your child, such as a few days or a week, or something longer, such as two weeks or a month?

8. Camp provisions
Are there certain amenities or features you're looking for? Maybe your child is interested in waterfront activities or a ropes course, or maybe you're searching for a more specialized camp such as a sport- or STEM-specific program. Consider activities, food, lodging and other offerings to decide the right fit for your child.

9. Recommendations
Talk to friends, neighbors, relatives or other parents; often, word of mouth and a recommendation from someone you trust is the best endorsement. Similarly, if your child is a first-time camper, consider planning for summer camp with other parents. Having a friend with them can help children adjust, quiet nerves and build confidence away from home.

10. Certified camp finder tools
If you're still not sure where to begin, ACA's Find-a-Camp tool is a free resource with the most extensive directory of summer and year-round camp programs. Filter your search by your exact wants and needs. You'll also find resources for financial aid, camp scholarships and more.

Finding the right summer camp for your child doesn't have to be overwhelming. Take the time to explore these game-changing strategies to find the perfect summer camp match for your child.

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