7 Tips for a Summer Camp Experience They’ll Love
By Dan Jackman
Spring has sprung, and that means summer is right around the corner. With the pandemic stopping most summer programs the last two years, this may be the first dip into the summer camp world for many parents and their school-aged kids. To get everyone caught up to speed, here are 7 tips to provide your child with a summer camp experience they’ll love.
Spend time with your child making lists of the activities they would like to take part in during the summer months. Ownership of the camp selection process can ensure your child has a positive experience. Want your child to step out of their comfort zone, compromise on an alternate week with a camp that stretches them to explore a new activity or skill. Once you have your list set, you can research available summer camp options.
If you and your child are new to the camp scene, ask for recommendations. Whether in-person or online, your friend network will not only bring camp recommendations but also an opportunity to coordinate camp schedules with your child’s friends. You can also visit ACA Camps to research accredited camps.
Don’t forget when choosing a summer camp to check out your local YMCA, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, parks and recreation department, community centers, high schools, universities, and religious communities.
Safety is paramount in the minds of parents. Start by checking references and accreditations before choosing a summer camp. The ACA is one of the nation’s largest camp accreditation organizations that works with camps on the key aspects of camp operations, particularly related to the safety and well-being of campers. The ACA offers a database of state laws and regulations applicable to camps.
If a camp is new to you, call to ask more questions. Don’t be shy asking about the camp’s risk management plan, day-to-day schedules and activities, instructor qualifications, staffing ratio, training requirements, safety procedures, and abuse prevention protocols before enrolling your child.
The average weekly cost of day camps can range from $200 to $800 per week. Most camps have their pricing structures available on camp websites, making it easier than ever to shop around to find a camp within your budget. When choosing a summer camp, be sure to factor in any additional costs for t-shirts, required equipment or supplies, or special outings or field trips.
If a camp seems financially out of reach, call the camp director to see if you qualify for financial assistance or if you can utilize discounts for more than one child or multi-week packages. If you are an eligible federal employee and your agency offers a childcare subsidy program, a licensed summer camp may be eligible for reimbursement.
When choosing a summer camp, check your personal calendar for conflicts such as family vacations, visits from out-of-town relatives, and other special activities. You may also want to ask your child if they would like to attend any camps with friends and coordinate schedules.
Some camps, especially those geared towards younger children, run half days. If this poses an issue with your work schedule, you can inquire about after camp programs or coordinate with other parents to split drop offs and pickups.
Most camps will provide you with a specific packing list along with items to leave at home, mainly expensive electronics. Invest in custom iron on labels with your children’s names and affix to their clothing, backpacks, lunchboxes and other items. This will aid in the speedy return of belongings should they go missing during camp.
Staying Healthy and Hydrated
Studies have shown that more than half of all children and adolescents in the United States do not drink enough water. This can be especially true in the heat of the summer months. Add the business of a camp day schedule and the dehydration factors compound. While it may be tempting to reach for a sports drink, hold off and consider a healthier alternative.
Start your child off each day with a glass of water, rehydrating their body after the recommended eight hours of sleep. Pack a reusable water bottle infused with their favorite fruits for taste along with a lunch with water-rich foods like watermelon, strawberries, cantaloupe, peaches and oranges. When returning home from camp, make sure they drink a few more glasses of water before bed.
Finally, encourage your child to learn, grow, stretch, and explore, but most importantly, have fun while at camp.
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