Choosing a Summer Camp for Kids
Summer camps are a great thing for kids! My oldest two kids have both been to summer camps a few times and had the time of their lives! Summer camps offer specialized activities while giving kids the chance to make new friends, gain some independence and have FUN!
The images in this post are from my daughter’s last week at summer camp. She is typically glued to my side and almost didn’t go at all the first time. That feeling changed so fast I wasn’t even back in my car when I dropped her off!
Of course, as with all things, a top priority when sending your kids to camp is keeping them safe! You also want to make sure that the activities at the camp align with your child’s interests. It’s okay to encourage them to try something new but sending your child to horse camp when they are deathly afraid of horses won’t necessarily end well.
Resources for Choosing a Summer Camp
With careful planning and the following resources for choosing a summer camp for kids you can ensure that your kids have a great time at camp, stayed safe and come home eager to return the following year!
Word of Mouth
Ask around. What camps have your children’s friends attended? How were their experiences there? What did Mom and Dad think about the experience? A lot of camps are affiliated with religious organizations- maybe your pastor or a Church member can make a recommendation. Some camps are affiliated with interest groups that your kids may already participate in like 4H, GirlScouts, BoyScouts, etc. Talk with troop leaders and parents there, too.
A note of caution: Getting recommendations from your kids’ friends and their parents is helpful. However, sending your kids to camp with friends at the same time might make it difficult for them to make new friends since they are more likely to lean on the friend they already have (especially if they are shy). Think about the relationships your kids already have with their friends and weigh the pros and cons carefully.
Research and Interview
If you don’t have recommendations from someone you trust, you should do some research. Start by narrowing down camps by geography- realistically, where can your child attend camp that you can pick them up and drop them off and get to them in, well, a hurry?
Then, narrow your choices by focus. What are the main activities at the camps you are considering? Will they appeal to your child? Are there religious teachings that will further your own teachings or are they opposed to your beliefs? Is there an educational focus?
My son is very much interested in outdoor activities like hiking, hunting and fishing. While I do fish and take him fishing, the other aspects of those interests aren’t a part of our regular activities. We found the perfect camp for him where he could learn those things as well as actively participate in his favorite activities while also being safe.
Find an Advisor
If word of mouth and research don’t get you to where you want to be- or your just not sure you can rely on your own detective skills, consider a service like Tips on Trips and Camps.
They’ve been a free advisory service since 1971 and are an excellent resource for choosing a summer camp for kids. They even offer camp fairs- both virtually and in person. They have or will get answers to the questions you might not even think of like how problems are handled, the percentage of return campers and staff, the overall costs of the program and more.