2013-03-14 / Neighbors

Choosing the right summer camp!

Summer camp is a fun way that millions of children spend their summers each year. Summer camp is a fun way that millions of children spend their summers each year. It can be difficult to envision warm summer days when the wind is blowing and the snow is falling. However, the winter months are a great time to explore summer camp options. In fact, many camps have strict enrollment timelines that require decisions to be made prior to spring.

Attendingsummercamphas been a tradition in the United States for more than 150 years. Statistics indicate that around 30 million American kids attend summer camp each year. There are many benefits to summer camp. Camp enables children to stay engaged during the summer when there may be limited interaction with school friends. It also gives parents both a safe and viable daycare solution during the summer.

Summercamppullstogether children from different neighborhoods, social classes and backgrounds, which can make it a good place to meet new people -- some of whom may become lifelong friends. Camps also provide a variety of activities that can challenge children to try new things that go beyond their comfort zones.

Some children are very receptive to the idea of attending summer camp. Others need a little coaxing. But summer camp should never be forced on a child who does not want to go. In such instances, consider local daytime programs that may fill the void instead of programs that require being away from home. Once the decision for summer camp is made, there are some questions to answer.

* What are your finances like? Do you have a budget for summer camp?

* What size camp do you desire?

* Should the camp be co-ed or single sex?

* How far do you want your child to travel for summer camp? What are the options in your area?

* Are there any camps that have been recommended by friends or family members?

* What kinds of activities do your children enjoy?

These types of questions will help you narrow down your options. Then you can visit and interview camps to find one that is the best fit. When visiting camps, go armed with a checklist of questions. Some of these can include:

* What is the philosophy of the camp?

* Can you explain a typical day? * What are the types of activities and facilities offered?

* What is the camper-tocounselor ratio?

* What is the camp’s drug/ alcohol policy?

* Does the camp have insurance and security personnel?

* What percentage of staff return each year? How are staff selected and trained?

* What kind of health care is provided?

* Can you tell me about the policy on phone calls and family visits?

* What do you do in the event of emergencies?

There are many different camps available. Some offer a “little bit of everything.” Others cater to academics, sports, specific hobbies or even religious preferences. Don’t wait too long to research and sign up for camps because many fill up quite early or have an extensive waiting list. That is why choosing a camp should be part of a winter to-do list.

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