Choosing a Summer Camp: 10 Things You Need To Know

by | May 1, 2017 | 0 comments

The school year is coming to an end. And with that comes the task of choosing a summer camp to sign your kids up for. Trying to find the right summer camp for your little one can be a bit challenging.

There are so many things to keep in mind when choosing a camp. And that can be pretty intimidating.

  • Will it be safe?
  • Are the camp counselors certified in CPR/First Aid?
  • How much does one camp cost?

There are a million different questions that probably run through your mind throughout this process.

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But hopefully we can help you out with this checklist of things to keep in mind when choosing a summer camp for your child!


Choosing a Summer Camp: Tip #1

Let Them Have A Say In The Decision

First and foremost, when choosing a summer camp it’s important that you keep in mind what your child wants to do. You can’t expect a kid who would rather build things or make art to fully enjoy the experience of a sports camp. They would do much better in a STEM or artist’s camp.

This tip is really easy to follow as long as you pay close attention to what your little one likes to do for fun. Do they like nature? See if any parks near you offer nature camps. Maybe they enjoy photography or art. In that case an artist camp would be the best option for them.

As much as we want to bond with our children over liking the same activities, that isn’t always the case. In order to teach them to be independent, we have to let them make their own decisions. (Of course, to an extent). And that starts with letting them in on the choosing process.

Choosing a Summer Camp: Tip #2

Are The People Running The Program Trained In CPR/First Aid/Emergencies?

This next tip is a given. In most cases, camp counselors are required to go through some type of CPR/First Aid training. If not, the camp should have a medical professional on hand at all times.

When searching for the best camp for your child, BE SURE to contact a camp official. Ask them about their safety procedures, and whether or not their counselors are trained in CPR/First Aid.

You will be putting your child in the care of these people for about four hours every day for a chunk of the summer. (Or far away for a week or more if it’s a sleep-away camp!)

If the camp doesn’t have a viable safety procedure or properly trained staff, I wouldn’t feel comfortable handing my child over to them. (And you shouldn’t either.)

Choosing a Summer Camp: Tip #3

What Are The Costs, and Is There Financial Assistance Available?

Most summer camps cost anywhere between $75-$150. That adds up quickly if you have more than one kid and/or plan on sending them to more than one summer camp. Luckily, most camps I have seen offer discounts for families enrolling more than one child. And others offer financial assistance for families who may not have the means to send their offspring otherwise.

There are also plenty of free summer programs if your budget is really tight. All it takes is a little bit of research and patience, and you’ll find a good summer camp for your little one without breaking the bank.

Choosing a Summer Camp: Tip #4

Will Their Friends Be There?

Another important thing to keep in mind is whether or not their friends will be there also. This should never be a major deciding factor in the decision-making process. But having at least one friendly and familiar face at camp with your child could make their experience a lot more enjoyable, especially if this is their first time at camp.

Having a friend at camp can also come in handy for you in terms of transportation because friends who camp together, travel together…. Also known as “carpooling.”

Coordinating a carpool between you and their parents will save both sides some stress, especially if you will be working while they are away for the morning (or day… or weekend).

You can take the kid out of camp, but you can't take the camp out of the kid. Click To Tweet

Choosing a Summer Camp: Tip #5

What Is Required Of You/Them, And What Will Be Provided?

Some summer camps aren’t as structured as others and are “come as you are”. They may even provide the day’s nutritional nourishment. However, this usually isn’t entirely the case. Yes, most camps provide at least one snack, but it’s important to know whether or not you will need to have your kid bring a lunch from home.

Food isn’t the only thing your child may need to come ready with. Some camps that entail physical activity like dance or other sports may require a dress code. It may be common sense not to come to a soccer camp with jeans on, but it never hurts to double and triple check any dress code requirements.

Same thing goes for any equipment they need to bring. Most sports camps will provide equipment like balls or other things essential to that specific camp, but other camps like photography or fishing may not supply camera or fishing poles.

Choosing a Summer Camp: Tip #6

Will They Have “Extended Hours?”

This may not be necessary for you, but it may be nice if you are running behind on errands or can’t escape work on time to drop them off before camp or pick them up after camp. Most camps will hold extended hours for around an hour before and after the camp starts/ends.

Most of the time it is also free, but always be sure to check just in case!

Choosing a Summer Camp: Tip #7

Who Is Running The Camp?

Is the camp run by professionals in the topic of the program? Are they qualified to teach your kids whatever skills they will be working on at camp? Chances are the answer is “yes”, but it never hurts to be sure and check this out.

If I’m signing my kid up for a photography camp (which can be pretty expensive if I say so myself), I want to be sure that it is being taught by somebody who has a passion for photography and is happy to teach kids about the basics of photography.

Summer camps can be pretty costly and I would want to be sure my daughter or son would be getting my money’s worth.

Choosing a Summer Camp: Tip #8

Proximity To Location

I will come right out and say it. Gas is NOT cheap. Also, spending time in the car with my daughter for more than 10 minutes is one of the more trying moments of my parenting journey.

With that said, finding a summer camp within a 10 mile radius of your house is essential. At least it is for me. 😉

This may not be the case for you and if it isn’t, then by all means skip this step on the checklist. But for many parents whose kids aren’t the biggest fan of car rides or don’t want to spend a ton of money on gas, finding a close summer camp is certainly an important step to take into consideration.

I suggest finding out how many miles away you are willing to drive, then using one of the many summer camp search websites to find camps within your desired location to choose from.

mother father with two children daughter and son having summer camp at home in a tent with dad cooking food

If sending your kids to camp is not exactly what you’re looking for, have no fear. We have ideas on how to have summer camp home – click here!

Choosing a Summer Camp: Tip #9

How Long Will It Run, And At What Time Of Day?

Most parents I know talk about how they’ve signed their kid(s) up for at least three summer camps throughout the summer. If that sounds like you, one of the most beneficial and important things you can do is find out how long each summer camp will run and what times they will take place.

Keeping this information organized and written down will help you ensure that you don’t accidentally overlap any dates and times with each other. This will save you one giant headache and one upset child.

Even if you are the most unorganized person on the planet, I promise you that this will make your decision making process a million times easier. Being a little organized, even if just temporarily, never hurt anyone.

Choosing a Summer Camp: Tip #10

Listen To Your Mom Groups (Sort of…)

Take this piece of advice with a grain of salt. Mom groups can be both your best friend and your worst enemy. If you are stuck on finding the best camp for your little one, ask around these groups and see what other moms have to say.

When I am looking for anything that has to do with my daughter, I ask a few of the mom groups I am a part of on Facebook. There are always moms who have already experienced whatever it is I am wondering about. This is great because they offer their advice and (usually) solve whatever it is I am worried about.

This doesn’t have to be the definitive moment of which summer camp you will send your little one to. But by taking some time to read through a few experiences from mothers who have sent their kids to the various camps around you, you can take what they say and use it towards making your final decision.

choosing a summer camp kids around a bonfire making s'mores tents and string lights behind them

While we can’t coddle them forever, we can help them choose what will be the best option for them.

Summer camps provide some of the best memories your little one will have for the rest of their lives. They will make friendships that can last a lifetime. And ultimately, that is the best part.

Do you have any additional tips to add? Help other moms out and let us know!

And after checking out our checklist, click here to find a summer camp near you!

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