With so many choices available, how do you find a summer camp that fits your family’s style? Here are key questions to ask when starting your search.
By Wendy Chou
Some parents see summer vacation as a chance to try new skills and challenges, and some would rather that their kids unplug and unwind from the pressures of the school year. Whether you are researching camps for the first time or looking for some refresher tips, these simple questions may come in handy when considering a camp for your child.
- What is the ratio of campers to staff?
- Is the program staff composed of college students, more experienced teachers, or a mix?
- Do students roam independently or stick closely with one counselor throughout the day?
- Does the camp offer more free time or more structure?
Philosophy and Content
- Is the focus on learning, on fun, or on a combination?
- Do campers tend to return year after year?
- What sets it apart from similar camps in the area?
- Does the camp cover gap subjects (ones that your child sees less of during the school year)?
Special Features and Accommodations
- For skill-based camps (for instance, coding or sports camps), how do you accommodate different ages or abilities?
- How would staff try to accommodate the needs of my introverted camper, or my spirited camper?
- If needed, is before or after care available (if so, how does it differ from the main day’s activities?)
- Are transportation options (e.g., bussing) available?
A Camp Director’s Perspective
Parents should feel free to call or e-mail camp directors “if they want to know more,” recommends Rory Judge, who has 40 years’ experience with the Bay Area’s Adventure Camps. Chatting with parents one-on-one about their summer camp questions is the perfect way to help “even the most nervous first-time parents warm up to camp,” Judge explains. For starters, he likes to find out a prospective camper’s age, how much camp experience they already have, and what school they attend. With websites, reviews, and other online tools becoming more popular, Judge finds that parents today seem comfortable doing their own research online in lieu of calling in.
Whether you like to gather information online or talk to camp staff, keeping these questions in mind can help you narrow down the field of camps that really fit your family’s style. And to easily find camps that match your child’s age, interest and available dates, check out the search tools on ActivityHero. You’ll find reviews from parents and can book your camps with one convenient registration form.