Eenie, Meenie, Minie, Mo -- To Which Camp Should my Child Go?
by Jeffrey Solomon and Michele Klein
There are camp brochures on your coffee
table. There are camp brochures gathering in your
mailbox. Your child's best friend's mother is ringing
your doorbell. She greets you with camp information she
gathered to help you. Your well meaning relatives are
calling you with recommendations of camps they so fondly
remember. Your children are becoming more and more
excited with every program you read about and insist
that's the camp for them. You go to sleep at night hoping
that choosing a camp tomorrow will become easier only to
have visions of camp brochures dancing in your head. You
tell yourself there must be an easier way.
A good camp, whether it be sleep away,
travel, or specialty program has the potential to offer
your child many positive and enduring outcomes. A camp
experience can be fun, healthy, relaxing, and an
opportunity to develop skills whether they be athletic or
interpersonal and it offers youngsters a chance to become
more responsible and independent. Consequently, because a
camp experience may have a significant impact on your
child's life, it is important for parents to learn how to
make a well considered decision about choosing a camp.
Keeping in mind the objectives, needs,
and expectations of both you and your child, you will
find it useful to use National Camp Association's
"GUIDELINES TO SELECTING A CAMP".
1. List possible camps. Ask
parents about camps, or contact the National Camp
Association, which offers a free camp advisory service.
Call (800) 966-CAMP, local 212-645-0653 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Meet with the director of any
camp being considered. Ask how long he has held his
job. Look for someone who has been in that position for a
minimum of four years.
Also ask the following questions:
3. What percentage of campers return
each year? If most kids are not coming back, there's
a reason for it.
4. Who are the staff members? How
are they hired? Does the same staff tend to return year
after year? Even though most staffers are students, a
high turnover indicates a high degree of dissatisfaction.
5. What is the counselor-camper
ratio? One staff member for every four children is a
good ratio and the accepted norm.
6. What facilities are available?
7. What is the schedule like? Is it
a structured program or one that emphasizes choice?
8. What is the camp philosophy? Does
it focus more on sports or arts? Is it a diverse program?
9. What is the camp's attitude
pertaining to competitiveness?
10. Is the camp accredited by an
overseeing organization or by the state? An
accredited camp will have stringent standards pertaining
to health, safety and general programming, and it will be
inspected on a regular basis.
11. What are the sleeping
arrangements and toilet/shower facilities like?
12. What medical staff and
facilities are available?
13. What is the ethnic and religious
makeup of the camp?
14. What is the total cost of the
camp, including extras?
For more information contact National Camp Association. Also available is our pamphlet: "How To Choose A Summer Camp".
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