How do I choose the right summer camp for my child?

This is the time to shop for the best summer camp for your child. You want to find a summer camp that gives your child an engaging, happy and safe summer experience. 
Interviewing the summer camps’ director is the place to begin with this process. It is important to know how long the camp has been operating. If the camp is accredited by the American Camp Association you can bet that the day camp has been approved by the non-profit’s 300 standards health, safety, programs, staffing and facilities. This accreditation is just the beginning of the interview process. Here are some questions that can guide you on this journey. 

             What is the camp’s mission or philosophy?
Only you, the parent, can determine if the overall mission is a good fit for your child. If the camp is a sports camp does it offer a balance of skills and drills, techniques and practice time? Is the camp affiliated to a religious organization? If so what observances are apart of the program?

           How does the camp select their staff?
 What kind of screening process does the camp provide? Are there extensive criminal background checks? Are the camp counselors CPR & First Aid certified?
         What are the counselor and camper retention rates?
Do the counselors and campers return to camp each summer or is there a high turnover rate? According to the ACA a 40-60% of staff returning is a good rate; 50% is a good rate for the campers.
          What is the counselor to camper ratio?
Here are some guidelines for a good counselor to camper ratio. Day camp guidelines should be 1:8 for children ages 6-8; 1:10 for children ages 9-14: and 1:12 for ages 15-18.               
         How does the camp handle any medical emergencies and allergy concerns?
 You want to look for a day camp that has a medical professional on campus on a daily basis. You may want to ask if the counselors all have quick access to the nurse or doctor on staff. Many camps provide walkie talkies or cell phones to their counselors so they can reach the nurse or doctor on staff as quickly as possible.

       What does a typical schedule look like?
Looking at a typical schedule will help you decide if this camp would be a good fit for your child. You may want to see if the camp has a good balance with physical activity, creative activity, academic component and free time. Ask if your child has an option of choosing an elective during the day or throughout the week. 
I hope these questions are helpful and offer a good starting point as you start searching for the best summer day camp for your child!!!

Yolanda, is an educator and Founder of Team Tutor. She lives in the Delaware Valley with her husband and 3 young children. 

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