Choosing the Right Camp

Before enrolling your child in a day camp or overnight camp, the American Camp Association suggests these specific points to consider:

When selecting a day camp:

• Does the American Camp Association accredit the camp? ACA has specific standards applicable only for day camps.

• What training does the staff receive on safety, supervision, counseling, problem solving and other issues unique to working with young children?

• Is the price all-inclusive or are there extra charges for:

· transportation · overnights · swimming lessons · food service · horseback riding · group pictures · T-shirts · extended care · field trips

• If transportation is offered, where is the closest pick-up location?

• Does the camp have an "express bus" which transports children quickly?

• If before- and after-camp extended care is offered, who is with the children and what activities take place?

• Is lunch served or do campers bring their own sack lunch? Are snacks and drinks provided?

• If the camp offers swimming, are there swimming lessons or is it simply recreational swimming?

• Are campers in a group with a counselor all day? Or, are campers free to go from one activity to another with appropriate supervision? In this case, who would I talk to if I have a question or concern about my child?

• Is an open house offered before camp starts where I can meet the child's counselor and van/bus driver?

• Are parents allowed to drop by for visits or is there a special parent visitation day?

When selecting a resident (overnight) camp:

• What locale do I want to consider? (such as mountains, distance from home, etc.)

• Do I want a traditional camp that gives my child a wide variety of experiences or do I want to select a specialty camp that focuses on a particular activity or set of skills?

• What size enrollment will make my child feel comfortable?

• How rustic do I want the camp to be?

• How structured do I want the program to be? Does my child like to have plenty of choice in the activity schedule?

• Is my child ready to sleep away from home for an extended stay? (This will help you to select either a resident or day camp setting.)

• What session length will appeal to my child and to our family plans for the summer? (One week? Eight weeks?)

• How can I stay in touch with my child during camp? Does the camp allow mail, phone calls, or email? Does the camp have parent visitation days?

• How will the camp meet my child’s special dietary or physical needs?

• What is my budget for camp tuition? Remember, many camps offer financial aid.