How to Pick the Perfect Summer Camp For Your Kids

Going off to Summer camp for the first time is a huge developmental milestone in your child’s life. This could be the first time in their young lives that they have ever been away from the safety of home and family. For parents it can also be an important and nerve wracking time. It means handing over control of your child’s care and well being to someone you don’t even know. So how do we ensure we have put our most precious asset into capable and caring hands? Here are some tips to give parents peace of mind and make sure that kids have a fun and stay safe at camp this Summer.There are several important things to consider when you are looking at where to send your child for camp. You want to ensure their first summer camp is a fun and memorable experience so look for camps that have programs that will appeal to your child’s interests and talents. A sports camp is great for an athletic or outdoorsy child especially if they have expressed interest in pursuing a particular sport. For children who are creative there are camps run by Art Schools, museums and colleges. Some organisations like Girl Scouts will offer camps that have a little bit of everything and those are terrific for kids who are eager to try a variety of activities. Involving your child in this first step is extremely important. You want to pick something that they will be excited about attending and so getting their input will make them feel like they have a degree of control about where they go.Once you have decided on the type of camp you want your child to attend, the next thing to consider is whether a resident or a day camp is right for them. Depending on their age and your schedule this decision may be a simple one… are unlikely to be sending a 4 year old off to a 7 day resident camp for example. But again when making this decision it is important to listen to your child. For some, spending a week away from Mom and Dad might be exciting and adventurous. For others it might seem scary and intimidating. One thing that seems to ease anxiety is the knowledge that their friends will be joining them at camp. So checking with the parents of your child’s friends may be a smart move. Try and organize for your child to see a few familiar faces on the first day of camp to ease any initial anxiety. If the prospect of being with their friends at camp does not ease their nervousness then maybe day camp is right for them. When they are comfortable to spend nights away from you they will let you know. If they seem anxious about it then day camp is the way to go…..resident camp can wait for another year.Once these first 2 decisions have been made it is up to Mom or Dad to do some more research. Try to narrow down your choices to 2 or 3 and then analyse them in the context of these 3 important points. For each of these points ask the camp organisers to provide you with answers to the following questions.1 – Location: Where is the camp being held? What are the facilities like? Can you tour the facilities prior to camp so you can see where your child will be staying and they can familiarize themselves with the camp grounds? What are the bathrooms like? Are they clean and well maintained? Where will the children be eating? Is the kitchen/ food preparation area clean and well maintained?What safety equipment is available, for example to they have helmets for bike riding and life jackets for water sports?2 – Supervision: Who is responsible for my child while they are at camp? Do supervisors all have police background checks performed before they are allowed to participate? What is the adult to child ratio? If they are able to swim while at camp is there a qualified lifeguard on duty? Are boys and girls attending the same camp and if so are they together or separated at night? Do they have an action plan in case of an emergency? Do they have someone qualified to perform CPR? Who is responsible for preparing their meals? Do they follow approved food preparation guidelines? What are the procedures for children who have to take medication while at camp?3 – Cost: What is the overall cost of camp? Are there any scholarships available? Can you receive a discount if you have more than one child attending the same camp? What about the refund policy…do you get any money back if your child can’t attend?Once you have obtained satisfactory answers to all these questions you will be able to pick the camp that is best suited to your child and will give you peace of mind that you are putting your child in good hands.