HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - With the days growing longer and the weather getting warming, many parents are turning their attention to finding a summer camp for their children.
If you're new to the rigors of finding the right camp for your child, or if you're just looking to change camps this summer, the information below may help.
Types of Camps
There are three basic types of camps - day camps, sleepaway (residential) camps, and special needs camps. These types of camps may be further divided by gender and/or age group. Additionally, camps can focus on specialties that include: adventure, art, computer, dance, music, religion, horse riding, sports, theatre, etc.
Where can I find Camps?
Local organizations which run Summer Camps are long and varied. While WAVY.com's Summer Camp Guide is a great place to start, other places to look include:
- City Parks & Rec Departments
- Fitness/Sports Clubs
- Activity Groups
How do I choose the Camp that's right for my child?
While every child is different, some basic questions to consider when examining which camp may be right for your family are:
- What do you and your child hope that they will get out of going to camp?
- Does your child have any special needs that need to be accommodated?
- Is there a specific topic (sports, environment, arts, etc.) that you hope they will gain ability and experience in?
- If you have more than one child would they benefit from attending the same camp or different camps?
- How far away is the camp? If it's a day camp, is it convenient for you to drop-off and pick-up your child. If it's a sleepaway camp, are both you and your child ready to be separated for several days or weeks?
- How much are you willing/able to pay?
- What is the camper-counselor ratio, age, and training required of the staff? How do they recruit their staff?
- What is the camp schedule like? Is it a structured program or one that emphasizes a lot of free choice?
- Are there field trips? If so, how are they handled in terms of transporation, safety, lunch?
- What percentage of campers return each year?
- Are there any extra costs that may arise, like equipment fees or swimming lessons?
- What is the camp's payment/refund policy?
Other questions to consider include:
- What is the camp's approach to discipline and conflicts between children?
- How does the camp insure the safety and security of its campers?
- What medical facilities are available and what medical staff is on campus?
- Is an open house offered before camp starts where you can meet your child's counselor?
- Are parents allowed to drop by for visits?
- Is lunch served or do campers bring their own sack lunch? Are snacks and drinks provided?
These questions are a good starting point, but you and your child's individual needs will warrant even more. Asking the right questions before summer will ensure both you and your child have a memorable Summer Camp experience.