Day camps come in all shapes and sizes, appealing to a range of interests and ages. Here’s how to find one that is a match for your youngster by creating an unforgettable experience where they’ll meet new friends, gain self-confidence and learn new skills — while giving you peace of mind.
Begin with basics.
First determine your schedule needs. Some camps are only a few hours a day while others are structured to work well with a working parent’s schedule. Figure out if you’ll need to arrange before or after care.
Match the camp with your child’s interests.
From computer coding to robotics and sports, day camps offer kids the opportunity to try new things. If your child isn’t interested in a camp that specializes in one activity, choose a more traditional camp that offers a wide range of activities throughout the session. “Make sure there’s a healthy balance between structure and choice,” says Jim Spearin, senior vice president of Youth Development for the YMCA.
Consider the culture.
Ask for referrals from trusted family and friends.”Choose a camp that welcomes parents as partners in their experience,” Spearin says. “Parents should always feel welcome to come visit during camp. There should be planned activities for both parent and camper to enjoy together such as special events or campouts.”
Seek qualified, organized staff.
Camp employees should be licensed, certified and trained in sexual/child abuse prevention, first aid and CPR. Find out how camp leaders are supervised and how they plan for emergencies, including natural disasters, intruders and other threats. Also consider the child-to-staff ratio.
Try it before you buy.
Attend a camp expo or camp fair to find out what options exist in the area. Some organizations feature their own camp fairs and mini-camps during the spring for families to try.
Help youngsters adjust by including them in the process of choosing a camp and find out if one of your child’s friends
would like to attend, too. Discuss the schedule of activities and what a typical day will look like.