For more than 100 years, summer camps have offered safe havens where children can breathe, reconnect with nature, make friends, try new things, and be part of a nurturing community that supports healthy growth and development. The first step in giving children the gift of summer camp is finding a camp that meets each child’s needs. Some families send all their kids to one camp, select camps that match individual children’s interests, or a blend of both, perhaps choosing a traditional day or overnight camp for one or more weeks, and a specialty camp for other periods.
Whether your child is a new or experienced camper, choosing the right camp can be challenging, largely due to the abundance and diversity of summer camp programs available for children in preschool through high school. There are more than 12,000 camps in the U.S., and local communities often provide a wealth of camp programs, from privately owned and school based camps to those run by nonprofit and faith based organizations, municipal park camps, and specialty programs focused on technology, STEM enrichment, sports, horseback riding, performing arts, cooking, nature and more.
As you start your camp search, don’t be afraid to ask camp directors lots of questions—it’s likely that they’ve heard similar questions thousands of times, and good camp directors will gladly address even the smallest concerns. Many camps will provide opportunities to tour the camp facility, either in the off-season or while camp is in session, but always make an appointment prior to visiting and ask about safety procedures. If you’re not sure where to begin, try browsing summer camp fairs, online search engines, community websites, and local newspapers and magazines, and ask for referrals from family, friends, neighbors, teachers, guidance counselors, coaches, clergy, and colleagues.
Once you’ve found some camps that look good for your family, these 20 questions will help you choose:
For more educational resources about choosing a camp and preparing children for a summer camp experience, visit Acacamps.org/campers-families.