How to choose the right summer camp

Summer is here and it’s likely your child will attend camp. There are so many options for kids - how do parents decide which camps are the best fit for their child? Read on for helpful tips!

Summer camps are a fun learning experience for youth. But how do you know which camp is right? Photo credit: ANR Communications | MSU Extension

Summer camps are a fun learning experience for youth. But how do you know which camp is right? Photo credit: ANR Communications | MSU Extension

Summer is here and it’s likely your child will attend camp. There are so many options for kids to go to camp, how do parents decide which camps are the best fit for their child? The information and tips in this article are helpful for anyone trying to decide which camp is perfect for their child.

In the Seven Tips for Choosing the Right Summer Camp for Your Child article by Renee Flax, she recommends families consider the following points when making summer camp choices:

  • Philosophy and program emphasis. Each camp is different and provides unique programming and approaches. Consider if a camp’s philosophy matches your family’s philosophy. Ask about behavior, disciplinary and communication policies. The more open families are with camp directors, the better informed they’ll be when it comes time to make a decision about which camp to select.
  • There is a camp for every child but not every child is for camp. You know your child’s interests: try to match your child with a camp that has programs that interest him or her.
  • Involve the camper. It’s important for families to involve their child in decisions about camp. Search online together and take a tour of the camp with him or her. The more involved they are in the selection process, the more ownership they will feel. This will also help to ease their concerns and make the experience more successful for them.
  • Training and education. Don’t be afraid to ask about the education and background of camp directors and staff. Camp staff should be trained in safety regulations, emergency procedures and communication.
  • Day camp or resident camp? Will your child be comfortable staying away from home? Consider your child’s age and if they have had good overnight experiences away from home.
  • Cost. It’s hard to put a price tag on a child’s learning and growth opportunities, but parents also have to consider their family budgets. Look for a camp that fits your budget. It’s also a good idea to see if a camp offers early bird specials for registering early, payment plans or sibling discounts.
  • References. Ask for references to learn about a camp’s reputation and service record.

Additional camping questions and suggestions for where to find camps can be found at Summer Camp: Choosing a Camp.

As you do your research and discuss camping options with your child, don’t forget to consider all of the benefits of sending your child to camp. Not only should they gain new skills, but they should also develop as a person. To learn more about the impact of camp on a child, read the Summer camp - way more than just fun by Michigan State University Extension senior program leader Judy Ratkos.

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