These 20 questions for camp directors will help you make the right choice for your child

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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.

Ask the right questions

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. 

20 Questions for Camp Directors

Once you’ve found some camps that look good for your family, these 20 questions will help you choose:

  1. What is the camp’s philosophy and program emphasis?
  2. What makes this camp unique?
  3. What is the camp director’s background?
  4. What is the counselor-to-camper ratio?
  5. What does a typical camp day include?
  6. Do campers choose activities or move as a group?
  7. How are behavioral and disciplinary problems handled?
  8. How does the camp accommodate special needs and dietary restrictions?
  9. How does the camp handle homesickness and other adjustment issues?
  10. What is the camp’s policy on cell phones and electronic games?
  11. Are medical staff present on the camp’s grounds?
  12. What experience, certifications, and training do counselors have or get?
  13. What percentage of campers return each year?
  14. What percentage of counselors return each year?
  15. Is the camp sanitized regularly and is hand sanitizer readily available?
  16. Can or should siblings and friends be in the same group? (Discuss the pros and cons.)
  17. For day camps, does the camp offer early drop off and late pick up? (Is there an extra fee?)
  18. What is included in the camp tuition? (Snacks? Transportation? All activities? Field trips?)
  19. Does the camp offer discounts for early registration, siblings or referrals?
  20. Are camp staff permitted to go off-premises during their time off and between sessions?

For more educational resources about choosing a camp and preparing children for a summer camp experience, visit Acacamps.org/campers-families.

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