Looking for a summer camp? 7 things to consider
Looking for a summer camp for your child can be stressful. The decision takes time, patience and an understanding of what you’re looking for in a program for your child.
When choosing a summer camp, consider the following:
1. What do you need?
Figure out what you need. Make a list of what’s most important. Some things to consider are:
- What are the hours?
- How far is it from your home or work?
- How much does it cost?
- Does your child have any special needs that the program will need to accommodate?
2. Staff credentials and supervision
Ask about the qualifications of the camp director and counselors, and how campers will be supervised. Also ask about the camp's staff and supervision procedures, including discipline policies. Do these meet your expectations?
Find out when will parents be notified if your child becomes ill or injured, if there is a doctor or nurse in residence or on call for campers at all times, and if the camp requires medical records for all campers. Be sure to detail your child's history of immunization, illness, disability or allergy. Specify special diets and activity restrictions. And provide instruction for any medication your child must take.
4. Camp safety
Are the camp facilities and activities safe? Are there periodic fire drills for both campers and staff? Does each floor of every building have fire exits in two different locations? Are flammable materials (gasoline, pool chemicals, etc.) stored away from activity centers and kept under lock and key? Are functioning smoke detectors located in every sleeping room?
5. Sports and Activities
How are sports and activities supervised? Find out if water activities are supervised by an experienced certified lifeguard or water safety instructor.
Do you have to send food for your child going to a day camp? Does the camp serve food your child likes? Does your child have a special diet or food allergies?
7. How to save
If you’re looking for ways to make summer camp more affordable this year, Kimberly Palmer, of NerdWallet, says to consider these tips from camp experts:
BOOK EARLY: Booking early - even before the previous summer ends - can result in significant savings. Camps often offer discounts for early bird sign-ups as well as give away in-demand financial aid or reduced-price spots while camp is still in session.
ASK ABOUT INCENTIVES: You may be able to get a discount for paying the full amount upfront or paying with a check instead of a credit card, for example. Signing up for a longer stay can also bring down the per-week price, and installment payment plans may be available. Day camp expenses can also be eligible for the child and dependent care tax credit as well as flexible spending accounts for dependent care, which are tax-advantaged accounts offered by employers.
BEWARE OF HIDDEN COSTS: Check on extra costs that can show up later, such as travel to the camp or hotel rooms the night before camp starts. Uniforms and extra activities like horseback riding or field trips can also add to the total price.
EXPLORE LESSER-KNOWN OPTIONS: Explore nonprofit camps, camps run by service organizations and faith-based camps, many of which offer subsidies. The ACA’s “Find a Camp” tool helps parents connect with all of their options.
Learn more about camps in the tri-state by clicking in the links below: