Searching for the perfect summer camp for your child? Here are some dos and don'ts that should help you focus your quest and pick wisely.
Consider your child's interests
Summer vacation offers precious little time for your kid to explore interests for which there might not be time during the busy school year.
If your child wants to try out, or get better in,
a particular sport or artistic endeavor, this may be a great time to do it.
Keep an open mind
Ask your child what they want to do. Depending on their age, and the personality of the child, you could take their suggestion to heart and go with it. Or not. Kids tend to change their minds often and it might be hard for them to understand the concept of time and financial commitment. So, use your best judgment.
Collect as much information for all camp
offerings in the area as possible. A good
place to start is this magazine as well as our
Connecticut.Camp website but surely don't limit yourself to one resource only.
Inquire with the camp directly
If you are interested in a particular camp don't hesitate to give them a call or send them an email. Speaking to someone in person is always a great way to get yourself introduced to the people that might be taking care of your offspring for some time this summer.
Whether a first-time or an experienced camper parent, there are no "silly" or senseless questions. Good camp directors and counselors understand that this is an important and often difficult decision and will take time to answer any inquiries or concerns you might have.
Always ask for the credentials of a summer camp and if they are licensed by the state. Then do your due diligence and verify.
Talk with other parents
Some say that experience is better than knowledge. Ask your friends if any of their kids has been to the summer camps on your short list and ask about their experience. Just, yet again, keep an open mind and remember that every kid is different. So, if their child had a problem with a particular program, it doesn't necessarily mean that yours will have the same experience or vice versa.
Don't be afraid
to challenge your kids
Summer camp is supposed to be a great experience that provides a break from the lazy, sometimes boring for a kid, days of summer, by complementing them with engaging and fun activities. Yet, asking a child to decide what they want to do so far in advance can be overwhelming for the growing mind. Taking into consideration the personalities of your kids you could opt to present them with a surprise choice of yours instead. Just be ready to be surprised back, one way or another.
Don't feel pressured by peers
Just like kids, parents are also susceptible to social pressure. But, sending your kids to any camp, just because everyone in your peer group sends theirs there, is rarely a good idea. This is a decision that you must make yourself with your child's, and your, best interest in mind.
Don't limit yourself to
Depending on the length of a summer camp, and if cost is not an issue, you might want to look into sending your children to more than one summer program. Different experiences will keep them focused and engaged and will give them plenty of stories to tell their friends when they return to school in the fall.
Don't go over your head
Summer camp is not supposed to break the bank. Ask the camp for a clear breakdown of prices, whether the camp fee is the only expense that you would be incurring (or if you need to buy supplies, uniform or pay any other fees) and don't forget to inquire about payment terms, including their cancellation policy. This last point is very important. Life happens, minds and plans change and you need to know your options between the time of reserving the spot and the last day of camp. Also, many camps do offer financial assistance to families in need.
It is never too early to start planning for summer camp. Spots are limited, especially for high-demand programs. This may sound like a sales pitch, but it's not. Good camps fill up their spots quickly and unless you don't care when and where you sign up your kids this summer then it would be best to act fast and secure their spots for the exact place and time you desire.