Choosing a Summer Camp for your Child

Written By: Mary M. Alward
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Are you planning to send your child to summer camp this year? If so, have you taken his needs into consideration? Does your child have health issues or special needs? Will you send him to day camp or a camp where he'll stay overnight for an entire week? Will he be more comfortable at a large camp or a small one? Will he attend camp locally or far away from home? Does he enjoy sports, swimming and canoeing or would he enjoy his time away more if he went to art camp?

So many questions to be answered and so many decisions to be made. Let's take a look at some things you need to consider before enrolling your child in summer camp.

Choose a time frame for your child to attend camp without causing a conflict. Never send your child off to camp while the rest of the family goes on vacation or when grandparents visit. This will give your child the feeling of being left out.

Know you budget and stick to it. Check prices for enrollment at a wide range or camps. Ask if camp uniforms are required or if there are extra costs for special outings and events. Take spending money into consideration.

Choose a camp that is accredited by the American Camping Association. Such camps must meet stringent health and safety requirements. Camps endorsed by the ACA are top quality.

Visit the camp before enrolling your child. Make arrangements for a tour. If a tour is refused, choose a different camp.

Look in your own neighborhood for a camp that is right for your child. Kids can become homesick and they feel more secure if they go to a local camp.

Local parks and recreation departments offer great day camp programs that are most often reasonably priced.

Check local aquariums, libraries, museums and science centers to find out if they offer camp programs.

Choose a camp that will interest your child. Camp can have a huge impact on your child's life. Don't send him to an athletic camp if he dislikes sports.

Ask the parents of your child's friends if they can recommend a good camp. Word of mouth is a great resource.

Check with your child's school. They may be offering a camp program where your child will feel secure in familiar surroundings.

If you are planning to send your child to overnight camp, be sure he is mature enough to handle being away for an entire week.

Ensure the camp you choose will help your child achieve his goals. Does he want to be a scientist? If so, send him to science camp. Does she love horses? Send her to ranch camp. A camping experience is only positive if your child is doing something he enjoys.

Will your child feel comfortable at a coed camp, or should you send him to a camp where boys and girls are segregated?

Whatever camp you choose, talk to the camp director to ensure your child will be supervised constantly. Also ask him if your child will have a choice of activities.

When you visit the camp, ask questions and take notes. This allows you to review the information later.

Be sure to send your child to a camp he will enjoy and that will ensure a positive experience. Nothing can be worse for a child than spending time in a place where he has no interest in the activities.

Allow your child to take part in selecting the camp he will attend. Take him for a visit and allow him to ask questions. That will ensure that he feels comfortable with the staff and the activities that will take place.

Lastly, never force your child to attend an overnight camp if he feels insecure about it or suffers from separation anxiety. Instead, try a day camp where he will come home every night.

Follow the tips in this article and review them several times to ensure that you and your child choose the perfect summer camp for him to attend. If you do, he will be anxious to return next year for another positive summer camp experience.

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