When you wave goodbye to your kids for the summer (or even just for the day), you want them to be comfortable, safe and enthusiastic about the adventures ahead of them. Read on for questions to help parents find a camp that makes them feel the same.
Question 1: How long has the summer camp been open? Is it accredited?
More so than the age of a camp, focus your question around accreditation and return rate of campers. It’s impossible to compare the history of space camps on a college campus with the multi-generation mom and pop camps. That’s why accreditation is important. The American Camping Association (ACA) reviews a camp every three years, and serves as the authority on the camp’s security and distinction by scoring safety facilities, emergency procedures and the infrastructure among other facets.
Question 2: Where does the camp find staff members? Is experience required?
Does the camp require CPR certification? Does the kitchen have a food-handling permit? Ask about the staff return rate and who will be supervising your children on a daily basis. Does the camp require background checks and drug tests of its employees?
Good camps will be respectful of your questions about staff because they, like you, are putting your child’s safety as their ultimate priority.
Question 3: What kind of emergency and safety protocols does the camp have?
If the summer camp is accredited, you can trust that it has emergency systems in place. Similarly, the staff should be certified corresponding to the risk level or specialization of the summer camp (such as NOLS courses or camps for kids on the Autism spectrum). Every camp should have a fire, runaway, intruder and natural disaster policy and should be able to communicate that with you over the phone. Ask about the track record – if there have there been any serious injuries in the past few years and how they were handled.
Question 4: How is the camp structured?
Some kids, if left to their own devices, may wander into the woods and spend the day eating dirt. This child needs a smaller staff-camper ratio (the standard is 8-10 kids per counselor). Be sure to ask about the group ratio and not the overall staff ratio, as some will include kitchen and administrative staff into their numbers.
Do the campers have a choice of activities throughout the day, or are they led through a program with the rest of a group? Consider which model will help your child take advantage of all that summer camp has to offer, and factor that into your decision.
CampPage has an extensive database of summer camps in the United States and Canada to help you find the perfect one for your family.