How to Choose the Best Summer Camp

Summer camp is an exciting opportunity for a child to learn more about their world, and to experience new things. However, not all summer camps are created equal. Here are some things to look for when choosing the best summer camp.

Will the camp fit with your family’s schedule?

Many camps offer overnight programs for older children, but even with a day camp, your family’s schedule must be taken into account. Is there a family vacation that could interfere with your prospective camp’s programming? Do the day camp’s drop-off and pick-up times fit with your daily schedule? A camp’s scheduling flexibility may make all the difference to your family.

What programs are offered?

Do you want your child’s summer camp experience to focus on purely outdoor pursuits, or are you looking for a program with indoor activities such as music or dance? Perhaps you would like to find a summer camp with a mix of both outdoor and indoor programs. Some summer camps are focused on activities like sports or arts. The ideal mix of programs depends on what your child is interested in, and what they would like to try.

What are the camp’s values?

A good summer camp should align with your family’s existing educational values and philosophy. For example, if your child is used to a range of different collaborative experiences at daycare and at home, a summer camp with a rigid focus on a singular task may not be a good fit. When discussing the camp’s values and philosophy with its directors, you may want to ask some of the same questions you asked when choosing your child’s daycare to ensure these experiences align as much as possible.

Does the camp meet safety and educational standards?

At the bare minimum, a good summer camp will be a clean and safe environment for your child, with well-trained staff members. When researching prospective summer camps, some things you may want to know are: how staff are screened and educated, if staff are trained in first aid, how children are kept safe both at camp and on field trips, and what the camp’s emergency procedures are.

It is also a good idea to tour your prospective camps to ensure that all structures and toys are clean, safe, and in good repair. Accreditation is not necessary for a summer camp to operate, but you should ensure that your prospective summer camp follows all necessary state regulations.

How does the camp accommodate children with special needs or considerations?

The best summer camp offers enjoyment for every child in its program, regardless of physical, mental, or medical considerations. If your child has a physical challenge, a medical condition, sensory issues, or a behavioral disability, look for a camp that can accommodate them, and delivers a meaningful and fun experience at the same time. A good summer camp promotes respect for all children, with guidance from caring and compassionate staff members.

What are the camp’s policies?

Whether your child will be attending a day camp twice a week, or spending an entire month away from home, you want to be sure that you understand exactly how the camp will handle certain situations. Here again you may want to ask the summer camp directors the same questions you asked of your child’s daycare, regarding topics such as discipline, meals, medical supervision, how they handle conflict, and extra fees or costs.

Once you have decided on the best summer camp for your child, read our tips on how to get your child ready to have the best experience at camp.