How to find the right camp for your child
Questions to ask yourself and your child about expectations:
- What/who is driving the camp search? Unparalleled fun and learning? New experiences, skills and friends? Need for child care? Family tradition? Encouragement from friends?
- What are your leading camp search criteria? Which are “non-negotiable” and which are “preferences”?
- What type of camp are you looking for?
- Which of your family’s values should be reflected in the camp philosophy? How religious? How competitive? How diverse? How much camper choice? Camps are intentional communities. What they do and why is reflected in the staff members they hire, the schedules they follow, the activities they offer, and their materials.
- What activities/programs interest you and your child? What level of intensity are you looking for? Are you looking for opportunities to try new activities, to play, to advance current skills, to practice, to compete, or to specialize?
- What kind of facilities will your camper consider? Discuss electricity, bathrooms, and dining.
- What session length, from 8 weeks to a few days, is comfortable for you, for your child, and for your family’s summer schedule? The most common session lengths are: full season (7-8 weeks), half season (3-4 weeks), two weeks, and one week. Remaining flexible about session length can increase your camp options.
- What camp clientele do you want to consider? There are camps for boys only, girls only, coed, brother/sister, religious groups, under-served populations, and children with special needs.
- What is your budget for camp tuition? Camp remains an affordable option for nearly everyone. Some camps offer financial assistance. Financial aid procedures vary from camp to camp, so be sure to ask and to read brochures and websites carefully.
Questions to ask all camps under consideration:
- Is your camp licensed by the State of Connecticut? Is your camp accredited by the ACA? What other regulations does your camp follow?
- What training does the staff receive on safety, supervision, counseling, problem solving, and other issues unique to working with children?
- Is the price all-inclusive, or are there extra charges for registration? uniforms? horseback riding? t-shirts? waterskiing? group photos? field trips?
- Is transportation available and what are the specifics? Is there an additional cost?
- How will the camp meet my child’s special dietary or physical needs?
- In what way may I communicate with my child while he or she is at camp? With the staff?
- How does bad weather affect the daily schedule?
- Are there family visiting days?
- What is unique about your camp?
Day camp questions:
- Is before/after camp care available? If so, who cares for the children, and what activities are offered? What is the additional cost?
- Are meals provided? At what cost?
- How and where do I drop off or pick up my child?