Beside all the organized sports our children are attending throughout the year, summer time provides great opportunities for kids to attend a summer camp and learn new skills or make new friends. In fact, it’s been proven so many times that by keeping kids active and interested in sports or arts, they will stay out of trouble and away from bad influences.
But with all the choices out there it can be difficult to find the right kids summer camps. This article will concentrate on providing some guidelines on the numerous factors to consider when choosing the best camp for your child.
WHOSE DECISION IS IT?
If you want your child to attend the worst summer camp, send him or her to a camp without involving them in the decision. Otherwise, make sure to sit down together and talk about what really interests him, what does he love about a particular activity and what does he want to gain from the camp experience. Regardless of the age of your child remember to include him in the decision. Looking through brochures and sharing some favourite summer camp stories with your child is a great way to build his excitement.
Once you have determined your child interests decide if it’s best that he attends a traditional or a specialized camp. Traditional Summer Camps are more appropriate for children who love to do many different types of activities such as outdoor recreation, arts and crafts, individual and team activities, and more. Specialized Summer Camps focus on one activity and are more appropriate for children that are motivated towards one specific activity. The most common kids camps and activities are:
Adventure Camps: hiking, rock climbing, backpacking, rope courses, rafting, outdoor cooking, and fishing.
Watersports Camps: swimming, canoeing, kayaking, scuba diving, snorkelling, waterskiing, windsurfing, volleyball.
Individual or Team Sports Camps: soccer, baseball, football, basketball, hockey, horseback riding, gymnastics, martial arts, tennis, fishing, golf.
Arts Camps: acting, directing, writing, photography, choreography, dance, music, circus, paining.
Science Camps: nature, geology, astronomy, biology, archaeology, physics.
Religious Camps: Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Christian.
Computer Camps: web design, graphic design, video game design, 3D-modeling and animation.
WHAT TYPE OF CAMP?
After taking into consideration your work schedule, child’s age and the experience you and your child are expecting to gain from the summer camp, consider the type of camp that makes the most sense for your child. Depending on the type of camp, you can choose between overnight camps, day camps, all boys or all girls’ camps, or brother and sister camps. Also take into consideration the age groups represented and the percentage.
WHERE IS THIS CAMP?
If it’s the first time your child is attending a summer camp look for something closer in order to lessen some of the anxiety he or she might be feeling. Consider the proximity to your home or work especially if your child will be attending a day camp. Keep in mind the camp environment, security, and medical facility and remember to choose the camp based on your child’s interests rather then how close the camp is.
WHAT ARE THE FACILITIES LIKE?
Most camps will schedule a tour for parents to visit the facility and meet the directors or you can talk to the camp administration on the phone about your concerns if visiting the camp is not an option. Talk to them about your child’s needs and interests and how you can ensure that your child will have a successful summer camp experience. Enquire about the sleeping arrangements and what toilet and shower facilities exist. It is also important to find out what medical facilities are available and where is the nearest hospital.
HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?
As a rule of thumb, non-profit camps are less expensive then the private camps. Most of these kids’ camps are tax deductible under the Income Tax Act, falling under the general rubric of the “childcare expense” deduction. Talk to your accountant to see if you qualify. Beside the actual price of the camp you will also have to take into consideration the extra expenses such as the spending money needed by your child, transportation or camp uniform. Be sure to check the cancellation and refund policy!
HOW MANY CHILDREN WILL ATTEND THE CAMP?
The number of campers will vary depending on the size of the facility. Large camps are often organized into smaller segment groups in order for campers to receive the same attention as they would in a smaller camp.
WHAT ABOUT THE STAFF?
It’s important to enquire about the staff before you and your child commit to a certain camp. Ask questions regarding the camper-to-counsellor ratio, the experience of the staff and directors, background, and what kind of staff training is provided. Don’t forget to ask who prepares the food and what medical staff is on campus. Although most kids’ summer camps are required to undergo detailed staff checks for anyone working with children, you have the right to ask for references of families who have previously enrolled their children in the camp.
Last but not least, visit the Canadian Camping Association’s website for a list of accredited camps and information regarding provincial standards. Make sure your family is comfortable with the program you have chosen and remember that at the end of the day it’s important for your child to have fun, fun, and some more fun.