Many of us still have snow on the ground, others are bracing for still another wintery blast, which makes it hard to think about selecting a summer day camp. But, if you have a child that needs to be in an out-of school program during the summer recess, now is the time to do research to find the camp that meets your child’s needs and interests and is within your budget.
The American Camp Association offers the following guides when considering a day camp:
Day camps offer experiences that are unique from resident camps. Because of this, there are specific points to consider when choosing a day camp.
- Does the American Camp Association accredit the camp? ACA has specific standards applicable only for day camps.
- What training does the staff receive on safety, supervision, counseling, problem solving and other issues unique to working with young children?
- Is the price all-inclusive or are there extra charges for: · Transportation · swimming lessons · food service · horseback riding · group pictures · T-shirts · extended care · field trips
- If camp transportation is offered, where is the closest pick-up location?
- Does the camp have an “express bus” which transports children quickly?
- If before- and after-camp extended care is offered, who is with the children and what activities take place?
- Is lunch served or do campers bring their own sack lunch? Are snacks and drinks provided?
- If the camp offers swimming, are there swimming lessons or is it simply recreational swimming?
- Are campers in a group with a counselor all day? Or, are campers free to go from one activity to another with appropriate supervision? In this case, whom would you talk to if you had a question or concern about your child?
- Is an open house offered before camp starts where you can meet your child’s counselor and van/bus driver?
- Are parents allowed to drop by for visits or is there a special parent visitation day?
Most frequently asked camp questions by children who will be attending day camp and how you might want to answer them:
What will I do all day? You’ll get to do so much — things like swimming, tennis, basketball, arts and crafts, softball or baseball, cooking, ceramics, gymnastics, soccer, dancing, football… the list goes on and on. There are also special events and entertainment.
Who will help me have fun at camp? How do they know how to care for me?
Counselors are selected because they love working with kids. They are trained before camp begins to help you have a good time, make new friends, and enjoy a variety of activities. Their job is to help you have fun, be safe, and know your limits.
Do I get to choose what I want to do?
Some camps schedule the entire day so you have an opportunity to try all the different things at camp. At many camps, you’ll get to select one or even more activities every day. You can ask about how the day is planned for you.
Who will be my friends?
You will make a lot of new friends at camp. Camp counselors will help you make friends the very first day you arrive at camp. It’s nice to have winter friends and summer friends.
What’s so great about camp?
Camp is a special place where grownups help kids feel good about themselves. You get to make choices on your own, but you always feel safe. Camp is like a little community, where everyone’s opinion is heard, and kids work and play together. There’s just no other place like camp, because camp is built just for kids!
Why shouldn’t I just stay home and do what I want?
You might think it will be more fun to just stay home and do nothing, but believe us, camp is nonstop fun! There are such a variety of activities that you never get bored. And you always have friends; everyone’s always home at camp!
What would a day at camp be like?
Camp is filled with different kinds of activities. The fun begins as soon as the bus picks you up. You will spend the day doing activities you really like. Of course you’ll stop for lunch – maybe a barbecue or a picnic. Day campers will go home on their buses in the late afternoon, and look forward to returning to camp the next day.
What if I’m not good at sports?
Camp staff will encourage you, and you will succeed at your level. You are never measured at anyone else’s ability level. Camp is not all sports, but a combination of athletics, the arts and hobbies.
What if I have a problem?
There are lots of people at camp, besides your counselors, to help take care of you, depending on what you need. There is usually a nurse, so if you don’t feel well they have a place where you can rest until you feel better. You can count on the grownups that are at camp to help you with any problem you may have.
Once you have answered these questions, visit ACA’s Camp Database to find a camp just right for your child. Parents may call ACA National Headquarters 800-428-CAMP8800-428-CAMP for further information about specific camps or for the ACA section in their region. American Camp Association website…http://www.acacamps.org/.