Page 28 - Alaska Parent Spring 2021
P. 28

   HOW TO
  CHOOSE
 THE RIGHT
SUMMER CAMP
 With all the snow outside, those sunny summer
days might feel light-years away. But, believe it or not, now is the time to start making plans for a summer your kids will never forget.
That’s right: It’s summer camp registration season and, for parents here in Alaska, there’s no shortage of options to choose from. Local kids can explore science, immerse themselves in nature, hone their athletic abilities or do a little of everything at cool camp programs in the area.
To help you cut through the clutter and choose the right summer opportunity for your child, consider these essential tips:
FIND THE CAMP THAT MATCHES YOUR CHILD’S INTERESTS. What kinds of activities does he or she like? And is the focus of the camp something they’ll enjoy for a week, a month or longer? If your child doesn’t have a particular interest, look for a camp that offers a variety of activities. Chances are something will click.
STRETCH BOUNDARIES. A camp
that offers activities that pique your child’s interest should be considered when researching options, but avoid choosing a camp that does not give your child a chance to try new things and learn. A well-balanced camp allows kids the freedom to do what they enjoy as well as branch outside of their comfort zone.
CHECK OUT THE CAMP’S PHILOSOPHY OR MISSION. Does it align with your family’s values? Is it more cooperative or competitive? Is it faith-based?
DAY CAMP OR RESIDENTIAL (OVERNIGHT CAMP)? Is your child ready to sleep away from home for an extended stay? If you decide
on a residential camp, keep in
mind that readiness varies by
child and depends heavily on your parenting style, your child’s age and temperament as well as their comfort level at sleeping away from home with friends or relatives.
CONSIDER THE LOCATION, AND ITS IMPACT ON YOU. Is getting to and from the camp convenient? Consider if the camp is too far away for you
to drive your child there every day/ week.
CAN YOU AFFORD IT? Ask about
the base cost of camp as well as
any extra costs, such as lunch, field trips or equipment that you’d have to purchase for your child to participate. Some will offer incentives, such as scholarships, so don’t be shy about asking if money is any issue.
ASK ABOUT CANCELLATIONS AND REFUND POLICIES. Many camps are implementing policies that allow for more flexibility.
CHECK OUT THE CAMP STAFF. What is the counselor-to-camper ratio? (The American Camp Association’s recommended ratios range from one staff member for every six campers ages 7 and 8 to one staff member for every 10 campers ages 9 to 14 to one for every 12 campers ages 15 to 17.) Are staff members safety-
trained and capable of handling emergencies? Have they undergone background checks? How are behavioral and disciplinary problems handled?
CHECK REFERENCES. Quality summer camps will have dozens of parents and children willing to sing its praises. Ask camp directors if there are parents in your area you can speak with to learn more about what they thought of the camp and their children’s experience.
WILL MY CHILD DISCONNECT FROM TECHNOLOGY? It is a well-known fact that children spend too much time staring at screens today. Many summer camps do not allow children to bring cell phones or have access to computers and video games while at camp. While at first children can feel isolated, by the end of camp they will have had free time to
enjoy nature, discover themselves and make new friends without the influence of technology.
DOES THE PROGRAM HAVE SUFFICIENT HEALTH AND SAFETY PRACTICES IN PLACE? Limiting
the number of students in each camp, social distancing, increased handwashing and surface sanitizing, and daily health screenings are just some of the strategies many camps will be using.
CONSIDER NUTRITION. Mystery meat, pizza and nachos are called to mind when many people think about
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