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How to Choose a Camp?

March 26, 2017
  1. Choose Summer Camp!
    Camps are amazing worlds created especially for children – full of fun and learning.
  2. Choose a camp that is ACA Accredited and Licensed by the State.
    ACA Accreditation is the best evidence that a camp is committed to providing a safe and nurturing environment. Look for the ACA-Accredited camp logo.  Also a camp that is licensed by the state of Connecticut, please be aware that Parks and Recreation Camps do not have to be licensed by the state but some choose to be so make sure you ask any camp you are considering for your children if they are licensed by the state.
  3. Consider and list camp expectations (yours and the prospective camper’s).
    The ideal camp experience for your camper includes what? You have to fill in the blanks here. Parents, guardians, and children themselves are the experts on what’s needed to round out the school year; relatives, coaches and counselors often assist. Consider the personal definition of camp that adults and children may already have. Adults who are former campers, remember to think about your own camp experience and if something similar would be right – or not – for this prospective camper. Children who are experienced campers often know what they want. The questions at the bottom of this page will help you focus on what’s important in your search.
  4. Explore options that might meet your search criteria.
    •    Attend Camp Fairs . Meet camp directors and staff face-to-face and learn what a camp has to offer.
    •    Search Online. Use your list of expectations from step 3 to search online and request camp marketing materials. Carefully consider the source of online camp information. Most online directories are NOT comprehensive and camps often have to pay to be listed. Through the CCA Directory we list CCA member camps that are licensed by the State of Connecticut.  The American Camp Association search tool, has  access to information about nearly 400 ACA-accredited camps all over New England and beyond.
    •    Ask people you know and trust. Relatives, friends, coaches, and school counselors may have suggestions of camps that might work for your child. CAUTION: Just because someone had a great experience at a camp doesn’t automatically make that camp a good match for your child!
    •    Consult professionals. There are a variety of camp consultants and referral agents who can help point you to camps they represent that might meet some or most of YOUR camp search criteria. Look carefully at how camps present themselves to the world in print, in photographs, and in person! You can gain a more comprehensive understanding of each camp by reviewing a variety of their materials and by speaking with camp representatives, especially the camp director.
  5. Decide!
    •    Examine finalist camps closely; then, go with your gut.
    •    Involve your child as much as possible in the decision making process so that he or she will look forward to camp.
    •    Review camp materials and compare camps to your lists of expectations.
    •    Tour the camp when it is in session or attend an open house.
    •    Speak with camp directors or camp representatives.
    •    Request parent references from camps and check them. Ask people in your community, too.
    •    Go with your gut! There is no such thing as the best camp – only the best camp for your child. You will have to make the final decision, since you are the expert on your child.
    •    Select a camp and send in your registration materials early to avoid being wait-listed.

Prepare for camp together.

Preparing for camp together helps ensure a successful experience for all involved. Families should create progressive opportunities to prepare children for camp. Encourage day and resident campers to practice caring for their belongings and for their bodies independently. First time resident campers should practice being away from home by spending overnights or weekends with friends or family. Discuss strategies for coping with homesickness. Pack only what is on the packing list sent by the camp. The camp knows what your child will use and need. Overpacking can lead to lost or damaged items. Find out the recommended method of communicating with your child at camp. Send a letter or postcard a week ahead of time so that it is there for the first mail delivery.