While we all have treasured memories of campfire songs and s’mores, summer camps now offer everything from archery to computer programming. With so many options, choosing the right camp for your child can be overwhelming. Creating a schedule that aligns with your family’s needs and your child’s interests can be a struggle, not to mention the anxiety of sending your child into an unknown environment. Summer camp should be an opportunity to make new friends and enjoy new experiences. Here are some tips to find the right summer camp for your family.
Do your research.
This does not have to be as labor-intensive as it sounds. It’s summer camp, not a term paper. A quick internet search will give you a list of camps in your area with reviews. Avoid the one-star and five-stars reviews, and focus on the middle of the board. These reviews are the most even-handed. Even better is to ask around. Does your neighborhood, school or church have a Facebook group? Create a post asking for recommendations. Reach out to other parents on playdates and at work. Firsthand accounts are usually the most reliable, and many of these testimonies will come from people that know your child and your needs.
Summer camps have a variety of policies regarding the safety of your child. When registering your child for a camp be sure to ask about camp procedures regarding emergencies, pick-ups and drop-offs, medications, allergies, disabilities, and whatever individual needs your family might have. Camp directors have a wide range of experience in adapting programs to fit most needs, but they are not psychic. Do not be afraid to share any concerns you might have. A prepared camp counselor is a good camp counselor. Camp directors encounter all types of special circumstances and will be happy to work with you.
Set reasonable expectations.
Summer camps are a business. It is important to remember this as you make your selection. If you are unsure if a camp can meet your needs or hold your child’s interest, be aware of their refund policy. It’s also very important to set a camp budget. There is a wide price range for camps. If your child absolutely must attend a filmmaking camp at a university, be aware that these types of specialty camps come with a higher price tag. However, many parks and recreation departments, nonprofits, and churches offer very affordable options that your child will enjoy. Kids just want to have fun! It is important to find a balance between your child’s wishes and your wallet.
Know your child.
Summer camp is a great way for children to get out of their comfort zone and try new things, but it is important to remember their personalities and interests. Do you have a young athlete in the house that loves to constantly move and play outside? A watercolor painting camp that resembles a classroom setting might not be the best option for them, but how about soccer camp? Do you have another child that hates bugs? Maybe consider an indoor option, such as a culinary camp. Your child’s preferences can lead them to unforgettable experiences. Look for creative ways to play off these interests, and your child may find a true talent or passion. With so many fun options for your child to explore, you are sure to find their unforgettable summer.
– Jessy Patterson is the event and communications coordinator for the Acworth Parks, Recreation and Community Resource Department. She is an active member of the Rotary Club of North Cobb.