Choosing the right camp for your child

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Every child can benefit from camp.

That’s right. This statement might sound bold, but camp directors everywhere witness the power of camp and the transformative effect it can have on a child’s happiness, self-esteem and character.

The key to ensuring that your child gains the extraordinary benefits of a camp experience is to select a camp that is the right fit for your child and for your family. The best camps provide the perfect combination of nurture, adventure, fun, friendship and safety so that kids can flourish and grow while having the time of their lives.

Many types of programs are available, and learning about what each program has to offer will allow you to make the best decision for your child. Take time to explore local traditional day camps, residential camps, park district camps, school camps and specialty camps before making your camp decision.

Once you identify the type of camp program that you are looking for, visit the websites of various camps and request that information is sent to your home. You should schedule a time to tour any camp you are seriously considering to see the facilities, meet the directors and talk with them in person.

These are some of the important questions to ask a prospective camp.

1. Is the camp accredited by the American Camp Association? The ACA has specific standards applicable for day and residential camps.

2. What training does the staff receive on safety, supervision, allergies, counseling, problem solving and other issues unique to working with young children?

3. Is there a registered nurse on duty at all times?

4. Is door-to-door transportation offered? Is this included in the cost of camp?

5. Is lunch served or do campers bring their own sack lunch? Are snacks and drinks provided?

6. Are some facilities, such as dining halls or multipurpose areas, air-conditioned? Are some pavilions covered in case of inclement weather?

7. Does the camp offer daily swimming? Are there swimming lessons or is it simply recreational swimming? Is the swimming done on or off site? Is the pool heated? Do swim instructors or counselors teach lessons? What is the ratio of campers to instructors in the pool?

8. What is the ratio of campers to staff? How many professional, adult leadership are at camp to supervise the campers and staff?

9. What range of activities are offered? Is instruction in sports, arts and adventure activities offered? What type of experience do the instructors have?

10. How easy is it to communicate with camp about your child on a daily basis?

By carefully considering all available options, you can ensure that your child gains the transformative benefits of a summer spent at camp.