Summer camp is not a one-size-fitsall.When choosing a summer camp, it’simportant to select the right camp for yourchild. As you consider youroptions, expertsrecommend you ask yourself the followingquestions:
- Is the camp accredited? The AmericanCamp Association (acacamps.org) is theaccrediting body for summer camps, ensuringthat they meet industry-accepted andgovernment-recognized standards.
- Will the camp interest your child? Whilesome kids love the idea of a sleep overcamp, others don’t. You also need to considerthe child’s interests. If your child loves sports,consider sports camps. If she loves the arts,look into camps that specialize in music, artor drama. Don’t expect the camp to foster aninterest that isn’t there.
- Can your child handle the demands?Some camps, like the Brandywine Y’scircus camp, require physical stamina. “Theypractice from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., sometimes aslate as 6,” says Sheehan. “They’re climbing onthe web, they’re on the trapeze, they’re flyingand flipping in the air.”
- What is the camp’s philosophy? Carefullyconsider the message the camp sends orthe causes it supports and whether you agreewith it.
- Is the cost within your budget? Expensescan run from a few hundred to a fewthousand dollars a week and that doesn’tnecessarily include transportation costs orbefore and after care, if needed. Look intocamps that offer “camperships,” grants andfinancial aid or discounts for early registration.The Delaware Center for ContemporaryArts prides itself on being able to offer scholarshipsto half of its attendees.
- What is the return rate? Knowing whatpercentage of campers and staff returnfrom year to year can provide insight intohow committed others are to the camp.
- Does the camp meet your child’s needs?If your child has food allergies, dietaryrestrictions or physical or mental challenges,make sure the camp has provisions in placeto accommodate him.
- What is the daily schedule like? Considerthe camp’s daily schedule and yourchild’s temperament. If your child thrives onstructure, you’ll want to find a camp witha strict routine. If he prefers more downtime, you’ll need to choose one with a morerelaxed atmosphere.