Are you wondering how to choose the right summer camp for your kids? This post will give you a checklist of five things you should consider.
My kids get out of school next Wednesday! I’m looking forwarding to an extra 30 minutes of sleep each morning.
I had been contemplating what to do with my kids this summer.
As a family, we have afternoons at the pool and a beach trip on our summer agenda.
My seven-year-old daughter will be attending girl scouts camp for a week, just during the day. She will be exploring nature, hiking, cooking on a stick, eating s’mores, singing silly songs, making crafts and making new friends. She’ll also be attending a fun daily camp that includes sports and games, special speakers/instructors, arts and crafts, and various field trips – all with a focus on overall youth development.
My 14-year-old son, on the other hand, will play basketball at our local recreation center, where we are members, swim, hang out with friends, go to the movies, football training/practice, work on pre-AP reading/projects, and of course play video games! I do all I can to prevent summer brain drain.
Teens may be too old for traditional childcare, but a summer camp can provide the fun and structure they need to get through the summer. (Related: Choosing a Summer Camp for Teens)
I have such great memories of summer camp. I made friends at different schools, camped, cooked meals using a campfire, swam, and looked forward to getting mail.
I can’t remember all of their names, but the memories will be with me forever.
This post was written by Daniel Hammond, Director Pali Adventures
Checklist for Choosing the Right Summer Camp
Sending your kids away to summer camp can be stressful for parents, but with a little due diligence, the experience doesn’t need to cause stress. Here’s a helpful checklist to ensure that you choose the right camp for your family so you can relax and enjoy the summer.
- Camp Accreditation – Confirm that the camps you are considering are accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA). The ACA has been ensuring the quality and safety of camp programs for over 100 years.
- Camp Type – Decide on the type of camp you want. Depending on their age and your personal family needs, you’ll want to consider a few things:
- Single-Sex Camp: Girls-only or boys-only camps can remove distraction, the urge to impress the opposite sex, and make kids feel more comfortable to be themselves and try new things.
- Coed Camp: Interacting with the opposite sex offers the opportunity to learn important social skills in a supervised environment.
- Sleepaway Camp: It’s different for every kid, but typically kids are ready for sleepaway camp after the age of eight. This can be a scary step for parents, but the independence of a sleepaway camp teaches kids important life skills and helps them build the confidence to stand on their own two feet, in a safe environment. (Related: Things to Consider In a Sleepaway Camp)
- Camp Specialties – You’ll want to determine what specialties you want your child to experience. Consider those that match their interests, but camp also offers an opportunity to challenge them to try new things. Consider activities your child enjoys, ones that foster skills that will help them improve at certain disciplines (acting, cooking, art, sports, etc.), as well learn new things that will make them more well-rounded people.
- Camp Logistics – Once the type of camp is determined, you’ll need do figure out which camps work for your family. Things to consider include dates that fit your family’s schedule, cost that meet your budgetary needs, location, and the camp’s ability to accommodate any special needs (i.e. food allergies or disabilities).
- Camp Visit. The final step is to set up a time to visit the camp and meet the director and instructors. Many camps offer an Open House for parents and kids to see the grounds and meet instructors and fellow campers. This is the best way to get an actual feel for what the camp will be like. This is also your opportunity to ask any final questions you have about the camp (daily schedule, sleeping arrangements, emergency procedures, etc.) and its instructors (how are they trained, vetted, etc.).
Whatever you decide, summer camp is meant to be a great experience for kids that will teach important skills and leave them with memories to last a lifetime. Plus, it can be a great opportunity for parents to enjoy some relaxation and the chance to reconnect without kids around.
If you are interested in camping with your family, be sure to check out this Ultimate Beginners Guide to Camping.
How do you choose the right summer camp for your kids?
About the Author:
Daniel Hammond is the Director of Pali Adventures, offering 22 specialty camps kids can choose from in Running Springs, CA. Pali is different from other specialty camps because their specialties are so accessible. The programs are encouraging and supportive of all ability levels. They love to see campers explore activities they have only dreamed about; Pali tailors an experience to each camper. Specialties are loosely grouped into four broad categories – Adventure, Creativity, Performance and Leadership.