How to Choose the Right Summer Camp for Your Child
Factoring your budget, the camp’s accreditation status, your child’s interests and other factors into one decision is no easy feat. Asking these eight questions will help you find the right camp to suit all your needs.
Summer camp is not a one-size-fitsall. When choosing a summer camp, it’s important to select the right camp for your child. As you consider your options, experts recommend you ask yourself the following questions:
- Is the camp accredited? The American Camp Association (acacamps.org) is the accrediting body for summer camps, ensuring that they meet industry-accepted andgovernment-recognized standards.
- Will the camp interest your child? While some kids love the idea of a sleep over camp, others don’t. You also need to consider the child’s interests. If your child loves sports, consider sports camps. If she loves the arts, look into camps that specialize in music, art or drama. Don’t expect the camp to foster an interest that isn’t there.
- Can your child handle the demands? Some camps, like the Brandywine Y’s circus camp, require physical stamina. “They practice from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., sometimes as late as 6,” says Sheehan. “They’re climbing on the web, they’re on the trapeze, they’re flying and flipping in the air.”
- What is the camp’s philosophy? Carefully consider the message the camp sends or the causes it supports and whether you agree with it.
- Is the cost within your budget? Expenses can run from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars a week and that doesn’t necessarily include transportation costs or before and after care, if needed. Look into camps that offer “camperships,” grants and financial aid or discounts for early registration. The Delaware Center for Contemporary Arts prides itself on being able to offer scholarships to half of its attendees.
- What is the return rate? Knowing what percentage of campers and staff return from year to year can provide insight into how committed others are to the camp.
- Does the camp meet your child’s needs? If your child has food allergies, dietary restrictions or physical or mental challenges, make sure the camp has provisions in place to accommodate him.
- What is the daily schedule like? Consider the camp’s daily schedule and your child’s temperament. If your child thrives on structure, you’ll want to find a camp with a strict routine. If he prefers more down time, you’ll need to choose one with a more relaxed atmosphere.