A reader: Summer is coming very quickly. I have two school-age children and I am looking for some help on how to find good summer programs or camps for them. I want them to have fun but I really want them to continue to learn as well. I also want to make sure they are safe. Can you give me some tips on what to look for?
Action Line: There are all kinds of summer camps available today. First all you need to decide if you want day camps for the week or the summer. Local camps or something farther from home? Large or small? What kind of activities do your children enjoy? You may find anything from cooking classes to music classes to art classes. One thing that might be helpful is to ask family, neighbors or parents of your children’s classmates for referrals. Once you determine the kind of camp that is best suited for your children you can ask these questions:
• How much does it cost? Find out but don’t let that scare you away if you can’t afford it. Some camps have grants or possible discounts for lower incomes.
• Will your child like the menu choices?
• Is the camp co-ed?
• What happens in a typical day?
• Do they do background checks on employees?
• What kind of training do the camp counselors get?
• What is the counselor/camper ratio?
• How long have the counselors been employed?
• Are you satisfied with the facilities? Book a tour if you haven’t seen it.
• What are the rules for visitors?
• What is their refund/cancellation policy?
• What equipment is on site for medical emergencies?
• Check with your children’s schools to see if they offer summer programs.
• Check on the company you chose. You can check them out at bbb.org. You can also check with the American Camp Association at acacamps.org.
• Don’t forget to check to see if state, county or other local government agencies require licensing.
• Ask for references.
Parents who do research and are informed make the best decisions for a camp that best fits their children’s needs. So, please do your homework! Summer camps are plentiful and vary greatly. You can be sure that there is a great summer experience waiting for your children no matter what their age.