4 easy steps to choosing the best summer camp

By  on February 16, 2012
July may feel like a long way away, but the reality is summer camp is around the corner. Soon enough our children will be splashing, hiking, running and simply relishing in the summertime freedom. So now is the time to begin the camp search and registration process.

Here are four steps to take when picking a camp.

1. Choose a type of camp

The choices go far beyond day vs. overnight. Traditional camps offer the quintessential camp experience – think canoes, campfires, cabins, and a blend of sports, artistic and social activities. Specialized camps provide a more immersive opportunity to practise a certain sport, art, or language. Fitness camps instill valuable lifestyle habits. Faith-based camps provide spiritual enrichment in a casual environment. And there are special needs camps, too.

2. Make a wish list

Parents and children should discuss their camp options together to come up with a wish list for: location, activities and amenities. Is the proximity of a camp important, or does your child have their heart set on music camp? As part of this list, families can determine a rough budget.

3. Talk to the camp directors

A crucial step is talking to camp directors about their specific philosophies, programs and policies. When calling, visiting or emailing some important questions to ask are:
  • What is the typical daily schedule?
  • What is the staff-to-camper ratio?
  • What kind of staff training is provided?
  • What percentage of campers and staff return?
  • What is the food like, how is it prepared, and does the camp accommodate campers with allergies?
  • What kind of financial aid is available?
  • What kind of contact will I have with my child? Many camps only allow letters, some can facilitate emails. Few will allow phone contact.

4. Talk to other families and campers

Some camps may be able to connect you to current families and campers. They can provide valuable first-hand information and a different perspective on the camp. This is also a great chance to involve your kids in the process, as they can chat with other children to get to know their future campmates.

With so many options, the search for the right camp can be daunting. It may take time and patience, but when a child returns home after having a fun filled summer, the rewards will last a lifetime.

Find a camp for your children at www.camps.ca or attend the Toronto Camp Expo on February 26, 2012 at Roy Thompson Hall. Meet with 50 of the best day and overnight programs throughout Ontario, Quebec and BC. Admission is free with registration at www.ourkids.net/campexpo.

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