You wouldn’t send your child to a new school without asking every pertinent question you can think of to make sure the school and your child will be a good fit. Similarly, you don’t want to send your child off to day camp this summer without asking very similar questions.
Although your family situation may require you to be more in depth, these eight questions are my personal starting point when signing my children up for summertime activities:
Is my child ready for camp?
First and foremost, before you dig for the perfect camp to send your child to, you need to be sure your child is truly ready for camp. Even a day camp may not be right for your child if they aren’t ready. Although Camp Sunshine might take your four year old, your four year old might not be ready for Camp Sunshine. If drop off at daycare or preschool is still rough, or if little Timmy’s social skills aren’t quite up to par, perhaps camp should wait another year.
What is the camp’s philosophy?
If your child isn’t very competitive, sending them to a camp whose philosophy is entrenched in competitions, be they sports or talent related, is probably not a good idea. You need to be comfortable with what your child may do and learn at this camp, as well as being sure the camp is a good fit for your child’s interests and temperament. If Johnny is a sports player and you send him to a music camp, Johnny is probably not going to enjoy his time there.
What are the staff qualifications?
Are the counselors trained in first aid? What is the screening process used when hiring the staff members? What are the camp director’s qualifications and experience? There are many questions you’ll want to ask in regards to the adults into whose care you entrust your child, but these are a pretty good starting point.
Is the camp accredited?
Camps that are accredited undergo screening every three years to make sure they uphold certain standards of health, safety, and quality. An unaccredited camp may not have standards quite so high, and you may not wish to send your child to an unaccredited facility.
How does the camp handle special considerations?
If your child has allergies or special needs of any kind, there is no reason they can’t have a wonderful summer camp experience, at the right camp. Not all camps are equipped to handle various issues. Although many camps are now very allergy friendly, if your camper has a behavioral problem or other more specialized issue, you’ll want to discuss the issue with the camp director and ensure that staff are properly trained to care for your child before signing up.
Is the price all inclusive?
Most camps will state this on their brochures, but double checking never hurts. You’d rather know now that swim lessons are extra, or that you should plan to pack a snack from home, than to find out later that your child wasn’t able to participate in an event or didn’t get a snack because the price was not included in your original fee.
What is the camp’s approach to discipline?
Kids are kids: they’re going to get into trouble and do something they shouldn’t do, no matter where they are. It’s important that the camp’s approach to discipline when things like that happen is something you’re okay with. With any luck, you’ll be able to find and send your child to a camp that reinforces positive behavior more than it punishes negative behavior.
What is the camp’s cancellation policy?
Life happens. Although you may have every intention of sending Sally to camp this summer, something may come up. Perhaps a family issue will spring up at the last minute, or maybe you’ll realize Sally just isn’t ready after you’ve already signed the papers and paid the fees. Whatever the problem that crops up, you’ll want to make sure the camp has a cancellation policy you can live with. Although you may have to pay a cancellation fee, you should be able to get at least a portion of the money you paid out in good faith returned to you if you must cancel.
No matter where your child ends up spending their summer this year, their safety and enjoyment of their summer activities are important. The camp you send them to wants them to enjoy their time there just as much as you do. By asking yourself and the staff of camps you’re interested in these eight questions, you’ll be able to find the place your child will have the best experience.
What questions do you ask when looking for activities for your child’s summer? Did you see them here or do you have any to suggest? Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to share this list with your friends and family.