Entrusting your child to a summer camp is a big decision—not only do you want to make sure the camp has activities your child will enjoy and learn from, but you want assurance that the staffers are qualified to supervise children, the facilities are safe and there are solid procedures in place in case of an emergency. According to Pam Caldwell Nootbaar, General Manager of Kennolyn Camps in Soquel, the first thing to look for in a prospective camp is accreditation by the American Camp Association (ACA), which ensures it has voluntarily opened its operations to outside scrutiny and meets current industry standards.
Ms. Caldwell Nootbaar says it’s also important to determine the camper-to-staff ratio and look at the camp’s activities to gauge if they’d be appropriate for your child. “I believe you shouldn’t just pick a camp that offers activities you know your child enjoys. Instead, find one that offers experiences your child hasn’t come across. Camp is about development and growing, meeting new friends and trying new things. The best camps challenge kids and don’t just offer them familiar activities.”
Here are some questions to ask yourself when considering a resident or day summer camp for your child:
• What locale do I want to consider (mountains, oceanfront, etc.)?
• Do I want a traditional camp that gives my child a wide variety of experiences, or do I want a specialty camp that focuses on a particular activity or set of skills?
• What size enrollment will make my child feel comfortable?
• How rustic do I want the camp to be?
• How structured do I want the program to be? Does my child like to have choices in activity schedules?
• Is my child ready to sleep away from home for an extended stay? (This will help you select either a resident or day camp setting.)
• What session length will appeal to my child and to our family plans for the summer? One week? Eight weeks?
• How will the camp meet my child’s special dietary or physical needs?
• What’s my budget for camp tuition? Remember to look for quality and value, which may or may not be the cheapest option available.