So your child is ready to join the world of residential summer camps for the first time. Now your work begins: How do you choose the right camp?
It’s a big decision. There are a lot of camps out there. And you want to have confidence that your child’s summer will be a fun and enriching one. One filled with great experiences and new friends—not tears.
We turned to the pros for guidance. And, according to Sam Cote, director of Camp Lincoln/Lake Hubert in Brainard, Minn., you can distill the process of finding the right camp for your child to a handful of simple points:
- Do initial research online and narrow down your choices.
- Talk to a live person at the camps you’re considering, and ask detailed questions.
- Most importantly: Consider the overall mission and basic philosophy of the camp and see if it fits with who your child is.
The goal is to find out what the driving force behind the camp is. Does the camp have an educational component? Religious? Skill development? Is it single gender (Camp Lincoln is; boys on one side of the lake, girls on the other)? Thus you can better match your child to the right kind of camp.
As you are “interviewing” the camps and conducting your research, be sure to do the following:
Ask where the camp draws from. You might want your kids to make friends from your region so they might get a chance to get together in the off-season. Or perhaps you want them to have the opportunity to get to know kids from the far reaches of the country and beyond. At Camp Cheley, they have campers come from 42 states and 10 foreign countries.
Talk to families whose kids have stayed at the camp in the past. Ask whether the camp is delivering on its promises, says Cote, whose camp is heading toward its 101st summer.
Check the background of the organization. See if the camp is accredited by the American Camp Association. Accreditation is a long process and can assure you that the camp is focusing on proper business practices.
Camp, if properly chosen, can be one of the best experiences your child has ever had, and life-long friendships and skills are created. So, do your research and choose wisely.