How to select the right summer camp


How to select the right summer campAs the summer season quickly approaches, we start to think more and more about cottages, camping, gardening, spending more time outdoors, or perhaps taking some vacation time. For those of us who are parents, we think ‘what are we going to do with the kids THIS summer?!’

Whether they’re still too young to be left at home alone, or you’re looking for new, fresh ways to keep the kids busy and social throughout the summer, two months of trying to keep the younger ones busy can be a tough task… Not to mention stressful.

July – August is the summer camp season, and registration for many camps has already begun. If you haven’t quite gotten to register your child in summer activities and still hope to do so, here are a few things to consider when selecting just the right summer camp for your child:

Make sure your child is ready

Most overnight camps offer programs beginning at six years of age, but many camping authorities suggest that starting at eight or nine is more reasonable. Children’s comfort levels will vary.  Consider day camp as a ‘training ground’ if you’re concerned that your child won’t be able to handle overnight camp.

Start your search early

Many summer camps fill up in February or March, so it’s best to begin checking out your choices sooner rather than later in order to ensure you get the space you want.

Assess needs and interests

If your child has a particular interest (e.g. theatre, sports, etc.) you might want to look into camps with specialized programs. If your child has special needs, consider whether you want him/her to participate in an integrated camp program or one that is specifically geared to those needs. Also, talk to your child about his or her expectations.

Decide what you can spend

Residential camps, in general, aren’t cheap. Private camps can run in excess of $6,000 for the entire summer. If your budget is tight, investigate less expensive camps run by not-for-profit organizations as an alternative.

Consider the program style and philosophy

Perhaps you feel that your child would benefit from the broad yet structured style of a traditional camp.  Other summer camps, however, may emphasize individual choice and allow kids to float around to different activities.

Types of Summer Camps

  • Day Camps: Most day camps run from two to eight weeks during the summer. They offer the advantage of a full day for your child to enjoy activities and learn new skills, while continuing to sleep at home.

Transportation is often provided to and from the campsite. Day camps usually operate from 9:00am–4:00pm, with extended hours of care sometimes available.

  • Residential Camps: Residential camps operate for periods of one to eight weeks. Campsites may be located in distant locations, allowing children to experience a completely different environment. Food services, accommodations, activities, philosophies and budgets often vary from camp to camp.

Both day camps and residential camps are offered by a wide variety of organizations and groups.

For more helpful tips & resources contact your EFAP or visit for more interesting articles.

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