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Top Ten Criteria for Selecting a Camp

We know many of you are busy scheduling camp tours and will be visiting a number of programs this summer. This is an important step in selecting a camp for your child! While you can learn a lot about a particular camp program by reviewing its marketing materials — visiting a camp will give you the true feel of the program. There are things you just have to experience to understand: the spirit, the warmth, the friendships.

Here are some topics to keep in mind when touring & evaluating potential sleep away camp programs. And feel free to bring a pen & paper with you on your visits to keep your facts & impressions straight!

Management: Keep your eyes & ears open when visiting a camp. Talk to the campers & counselors. Don’t be afraid to ask probing questions. Management style affects every aspect of the camp, from the top down. Be absolutely certain that this is a place that you and your child will be comfortable with. Sometimes this simply comes down to gut feelings.

Safety: Is there adequate supervision for the number of kids? Are kids wearing appropriate safety equipment for sports and waterfront activities? Are there water fountains throughout the camp, so kids can stay hydrated? Do activity areas have medical kits and two way radios to report accidents? Does camp have a defibrillator, in case of a medical emergency? Is there always a physician & nurses on the premises?

Programs: Will the programs satisfy your child’s interests? Are activities taught by professionals with adequate training? Does the camp emphasize cooperation, versus competition? Are there elective activity periods, if that is something your child would like?

Facilities: Is there a lake or a pool? Are facilities well maintained? Are sports fields and walkways in good condition? What is the condition of the bunks & bathrooms? Are bunks equipped with working smoke detectors & fire extinguishers?

Location: Are you and your child comfortable with the location of the camp and it’s proximity to home? Is the camp too remote? If your child has a chronic medical condition, such as asthma, is there a major medical facility in the area?

Value: Regardless of cost, is the camp providing a good value for the tuition paid? Find out if there are any “extra charges” you should expect, such as canteen, trips, extra fees for horseback riding or tennis lessons, uniform costs.

Staff: Where do counselors come from and what is their average age? How are counselors recruited and interviewed? Does camp do background checks? Is there a nightly curfew for staff, to ensure counselors get ample sleep? Is there adequate time off, so counselors are not overworked? (Being a counselor is a rewarding job, but can be exhausting!) What is the staff to camper ratio? What is staff return rate?  What is the “chain of command” at camp? Remember, happy counselors make for happy campers!

Food: Does dining area look clean? Is it cafeteria style or waiter service? Are there healthy selections provided for each meal? How are picky eaters accommodated? How does the camp manage dangerous food allergies and special diets?

Camper Population: Do campers look happy? Are there many kids attending in your child’s age group? Do most kids stay for whole summer or partial sessions? Do these seem like kids your child can relate to and befriend?

Emotional Needs: How is homesickness handled? Is camp sensitive to special needs your child may have? Does camp have anti-bullying program in place? The camp you choose should be able to accommodate all your child’s needs, both physical and emotional.

Any additional questions or concerns? We are here to help! Please don’t hesitate to give Camp Specialists a call!

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