How to Choose a Day Camp
The flowers are blooming, the grass needs trimming, and the temperatures are rising. While it seems like Spring Break was just yesterday, it’s time to make summer plans and for many families, that includes day camp.
Choosing the right day camps for your children can be downright maddening with so many options for length and type of camp. Where do you even begin?
Keep the following in mind as you begin your day camp search, and hopefully you and your kids will have a relaxing and fun summer:
1. Day Camp Is Not Just for Younger Kids: While many think children not yet old enough for sleep-away camp when they think of daytime programs, the truth is that local day camps are a great way for older kids to spend their summer days with less expense than overnight camps. They are also a great stepping stone for kids not quite ready to make the leap to sleep-away programs.
2. Check for Camp Accreditation: Many summer programs are American Camp Association accredited, so be sure to check out www.americancampassociation.com before choosing your child’s camp. If the camp you’re interested in does not have ACA accreditation, talk to the program director about why.
3. Ask for Your Child’s Wish List: The last thing you want to do is schedule a series of day camps and pay the fees only to find out that your child is not interested in the theme. While you do not want to give your child the impression that the sky is the limit when it comes to summer fun, it is worth having them make a wish list of how they’d like to spend their days then look for similar programs in your area. This may also be a great time for your child to learn a skill they have not had time for during the school year.
4. Crowd Source: Sometime the best place to start a search is by finding out what those around you are already doing. Ask a classmate’s parent what they’ve chosen for the summer or check out local discussion boards for ideas.
5. Check for References: When you begin to visit camps and speak with directors, be sure to ask for a list of parent references. There’s nothing like a thumbs up from another mom to help you make the right decision for your children.
6. Begin with Your Existing Groups: Is your daughter in Girl Scouts? Does your son belong to an indoor soccer team? Many times the organizations children belong to during the school year also run day camps in the summer.
7. Check Well-Known Organizations: Even if you do not belong to your local YMCA or Boys and Girls Club, you may find that they’re holding camps that are open to the public.
8. Visit Local Parks and Recreation Departments: The same county centers that hold mommy and me classes and host school field trips often hold week by week day camps with a variety of fun topics. Don’t discount your government resources!
What are your tips for finding the right day camp?