HOW TO FIND A GOOD OVERNIGHT SLEEPAWAY CAMP
Every child is an individual, with a unique personality, interests and needs. When choosing an overnight camp for your child, it’s important to find the summer program that will match up best! While this may seem to be a challenging task, the following outline of helpful considerations will get you off to a smooth start on your camp search.
Overnight camps offer a wide range of camp activities
The better you know your child, the better you’ll be able to select the most appropriate camp. Does he have a particular hobby or talent? Does she excel in a specific skill? Some overnight camps offer a range of conventional camp activities, while others offer specialized programming in sports, academics or performing arts, for example. The general atmosphere of a camp may be rather competitive, or have an opposite agenda that encourages only non-competitive group endeavors. Structure and daily schedules are a part of every summer camp, but many provide daily time slots when each camper can choose from a variety of programs to attend, depending upon what they find attractive. Allergies, medical conditions and other distinct needs must obviously be factored into your decision too. Your child will need a camp equipped to deal with any special requirements.
If you’re not certain about what your child would prefer or require in an overnight camp, an open discussion of these issues is the ideal way to figure it out. Ask your camper straight out! How long do they want to attend camp? What type of program? Camp experiences are most successful when the child plays a major role in the decisions leading up to choosing where to go.
Request Information about Overnight Camps from Experts
Start with friends and family to help you compose an initial list of potential camps. The best recommendations come from the experiences of other families who you trust. When you call a camp in order to request information and forms, be sure to also ask for references. If any of these people live nearby, meet up with them so your child can check out the whole experience through another camper. Hearing first-hand reports can be very reassuring for a hesitant child.
Once you’ve spoken to others and read through all the results of your web searches, you should compile a basic list of overnight camp options. Before taking another step, verify if these camps are accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA). There are numerous summer camps that are not ACA-accredited, yet this is an indication for you to more comprehensively assess the camp’s guiding principles (and ask them why they’re not accredited!). To become accredited, the camp must comply with hundreds of industry standards dealing with safety, health and proper operating procedures.
Quality staff is critical for your child’s experience. Counselors must be people your child can trust, as well as enthusiastic about their job! Campers should look to the staff as role models who promote fair play and are not overly critical. Inquire as to the percentage of counselors who return year after year, as this will give you a feel for the general attitude of the staff. A high number of staff should also be certified in CPR and first-aid, and criminal background checks of all employees should be done by the camp prior to employment. Adequate camper supervision as well as individual attention are both extremely important. According to general ACA minimum recommendations, the camper to counselor ratio should be 8:1 for 6-8 year olds, 10:1 for 9-14 year olds, and 12:1 for 15 years of age and up.
In general, the camp director should possess high level training and experience in administration. Speak directly with the camp director to find out about his or her personal philosophies and practices. The camp’s approach to discipline should be communicated clearly to the campers, and rules should be fair and understood. You should feel confident that the director can keep the overnight camp running smoothly no matter what!