How to choose a camp you and your child will love.
Published: February 26, 2020
By: Kimberly Blaker
Whether you’re looking for enrichment for your child or a way to keep your kids occupied and supervised while you work, or you just need a short reprieve from parenting, summer camp might be the ideal solution for your child and your family.
THE BENEFITS OF SUMMER CAMP
Summer camp offers plenty of perks, and many kids thrill at the idea of going away. Still, for some kids, particularly those who are shy, introverted or homebodies, the thought of going away for a night, let alone a week or more, can cause considerable anxiety. When kids are adamantly opposed, forcing summer camp on them might not be in their best interest.
But for kids who are eager – or at least willing – to give it a shot, summer camp offers opportunities kids may not have elsewhere, such as new friendships, a sense of community, independence and self-esteem, daily exercise and the development of new skills and interests.
Before you begin looking into summer camps, create a list of what you’re looking for. Consider the following:
- What is your budget for summer camp?
- What is the purpose of sending your child to summer camp?
- Do you want a resident (overnight) or a day camp?
- Are you looking for a short-term (week or two) or summer-long program?
- Do you want a camp that’s very structured or one that provides your child with lots of freedom and choices?
- What are your child’s passions, such as a particular sport, hobby or other interest?
Once you’ve listed your criteria, you can begin your search. An excellent place to start is the Summer Camp Guide on page 25. Also visit www.SouthFloridaFamilyLife.com, where you can search by region, camp type or camp activity.
Once you’ve selected a few summer camps that meet your criteria and fit your child’s interests, discuss the choices with your child. Let your child know that you need to investigate the camps before making a final decision. But keep their choices in mind to ensure they get the most out of camp.
Once you and your child have selected top choices, there are several things you’ll want to consider.
What are the staff’s qualifications?
Many summer camps use teens to staff the camps. Teens make excellent mentors and can bring liveliness to summer camp programs. However, the programs themselves should be developed by professionals and have professional oversight at all times.
How does the camp ensure your child’s safety? Find out what kind of safety training the camp provides its staffers. Is there someone on hand at all times who knows CPR? What are the camp’s procedures if your child becomes ill or has an accident or other emergency? What provisions do they make for special needs or allergies?
What is the daily schedule for campers? Ask for a daily itinerary so you know what your child will be getting from the program.
What are the rules? Each camp has its own set of rules. Find out whether your child is allowed to call you. If it’s a summer-long residential camp, can parents visit? Can kids bring a cell phone or electronics? How much money can they bring, and how is it managed?
Keep in mind, although there are many good camps, no camp is likely to offer everything precisely the way you want it. Choose the one that best fits your child and satisfies your most important criteria. Remember, your child will have many more opportunities for exciting camp experiences.