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All Star Activities

How to Select a Summer Camp


 

Camp programs are designed to ensure every camper a unique learning experience. Each day features a curriculum which combines varied activities and challenges, promising your child nonstop fun and excitement.

Regardless of the age of your child, the camp(s) that you select must meet the needs, interests, goals, and expectations of both you and your child.  As a parent you must understand what your child wants and then find the camp that will meet those expectations. Camp provides many opportunities for your child.  They will build confidence, explore new areas, engage in learning activities, interact with a variety of people and most important have fun.

Choosing a summer camp program for your child involves some important research but before you can start you must have the answers to some important questions:

  • What are your child's interests?
  • What do you want to gain from the camp experience?  Are you looking to improve a skill, learn something new, or become more independent and responsible?
  • Are there any social or physical disabilities that need to be addressed?
  • What is your budget?
  • What is the time frame needed for camp?  (daily, overnight, weekly, entire summer)
  • Do you have a geographical preference?
  • Is the size of the camp and/or number of campers and issue?

Some camps may emphasize one activity while others will offer a wide array of programs.   A Specialty Camp is where a camper would devote a majority of his or her time to one activity such as soccer, tennis or gymnastics.  The instructors at these camps are experts in the area. 

Specialty Camps and Your Child's Interest....

There are camps available for everything that you can imagine. You simply need to narrow it down based on your child's interests and needs.

  • Sports
    Baseball, Basketball, Field Hockey, Football, Lacrosse, Soccer, Softball, Volleyball, Roller Hockey, Ice Hockey, Archery, Fencing, Fishing, Golf, Gymnastics, Martial Arts, Wrestling, Track&Field, Biking, Weight Training, Horseback Riding, Tennis, Figure Skating, Aerobics, Yoga, Skateboarding, Biking, Karate, Chess

  • Water sports
    Canoeing, Kayaking, Diving, Sailing, Scuba, Snorkeling, Swimming, Waterskiing, Jet-skiing, Windsurfing, Surfing

  • Adventure
    Rope Courses, Backpacking, Camp Crafts, Rafting, Rock Climbing, Outdoor Cooking, Overnights, Hiking

  • Arts
    Basketry, Drawing, Jewelry, Leatherwork, Metalwork, Crafts, Painting, Cooking, Writing, Photography, Sculpture, Weaving, Stained Glass, Woodwork, Film/Video, Sewing, Journalism, Ceramics, Sewing, Knitting, Pottery, Acting, Directing, Magic, Puppetry, Script Writing, Costuming, Lighting, Makeup, Set Construction, Broadcasting, Ballet, Rock Music, Jazz, Choreography, Folk Dance, Modern Dance, Instrumental, Voice, Instrumental

  • Science
    Geology, Gardening, Biology, Marine Biology, Farming, Nature, Astronomy, Rocketry, Ecology, Computing, Archaeology, Physics, Radio, Aviation

  • Education
    Foreign Language, Remedial Tutoring, Academic Enrichment, English as a Second Language (ESL), SAT Prep, Reading, Computers, Historical, Handwriting.

A more traditional camp program tends to be broader in what it offers.  These general camps will provide programs in  team sports, individual  and waterfront activities as well as some outdoor activities.   Sleepover camps provide a summer residential program where campers enjoy daily and evening  activities. Overnight camps are coed, all boys, all girls, or brother and sister.   If your child is considering this type of  camp there are some important questions that you ask:

  • Does the program encourage the child to try new things?
  • How competitive are the sports?  Will an unskilled child feel left out or embarrassed?
  • Is instruction given in each activity?
  • Who are the instructors and what is their experience?
  • How structured is the program? Does the child have any choices?

COST OF CAMP

Like anything else in life camps vary in price.   As a parent you have to make a careful assessment of your family's budget regarding camp costs.  Weigh the cost of the camp against the cost to provide childcare for the time frame.  Also, consider the hidden cost involved with camps for instance charges for field trips, extra spending money, camp equipment or uniforms.

Generally, children attend sleepaway camps from one to eight weeks.  These camps range in price from  as low as $400 for one week to as high as $9000 for a full season based on location and activities. Specialty camps, which offer a one week session in a specific sport or activity, can range from $150 - $500.

SIZE OF FACILITY

You will find that the smaller camps (under 100 campers) allow the staff and campers to really get to know each other and individual needs can be accommodated.  Large camps (more than 400 campers) need to be organized in small groups to offer the same attention that you would get at a small camp. You must however check to make sure your child will not get lost in the mix. Also, it is important to find out how groups are selected and is skill level a factor.  You must be sure that the camp will meet the needs of your child.

GEOGRAPHIC PREFERENCE

It is important to consider the distance that you are willing to travel when you select a camp.  If your child is going for an extended period of time this may not be as much of an issue since the number of trips to and from would be limited.  If it is not an overnight camp and you will need to transport your child each day you must consider travel time.  Remember, if you are a working parent you might want to consider something that is on your way to work in order to make it easier in the morning.

OTHER IMPORTANT FACTORS TO CONSIDER

Be sure to investigate the security of the camp and the camps medical facilities.  These are two very important issues to consider.  You want to make sure that your child will be secure and that in case of an emergency there is qualified medical personnel available. 

Does your child have any special needs for instance language barrier, physical disability, allergies, special food requests, or learning disability. Will they be accommodate you child's needs?

How to locate a camp...

Quite often it is difficult for parents to locate a camp in your area  There are in fact a number of ways to resolve this problem.

General List of Locations That Offer Camps...

  • Museums

  • Youth Sports Organizations

  • Fitness Centers

  • Early Learning Centers

  • Stables

  • Art and Music Studios

  • Ceramic Studios

  • Skate Parks

  • Sport Facilities

  • Pro Sports Organizations (i.e KIXX soccer club, Phillies and 76ers in Philadelphia all sponsor camps)

  • Local Colleges and Universities

  • Swim Clubs

  • Private Schools

  • Farms

  • Beach Resorts

  • Local Townships and counties

  • Community Parks

  • Dance Studios

  • Gymnastic Centers

  • YMCA

  • Nature Centers

Newspapers.......

Information on camps will often appear in your local newspapers.  Many papers will do special camp guides in the early spring that will contain detailed information or you may find page ads throughout the paper.

Elementary schools.....

Many elementary schools will distribute flyers containing youth camp registration information for the community.  Middle or Intermediate schools are less likely to send flyers home.

Sporting goods stores....

Local sporting goods stores may have bulletin boards containing information for all sporting camps in the community. 

Parents.....

Other parents are a great source of information since many have already participated in camps with older children. 

Telephone Directory......

The telephone directory is another source that may have listings of camps.

National Web Sites to Find Camps.....

Many youth camp organizations now have websites and voice mail containing information about their programs.

A few websites that you can investigate when you are seeking camps in your area are listed below.  All Star Activities is in no way associated with these sites and does not promote the information that you will find on these sites.

kidscamp.com and summercamps.com

HOW TO COMPARE CAMPS....

Make a list of the camps that you are most interested in and then contact the representative and arrange to speak to them.  In order to accurately compare the camps you should have a list of questions that you ask each representative.  This will keep your thoughts organized allow you to get the detail necessary to make a educated decision.

Personnel Questions

  • How long has the director run the program?

  • What is the director's experience and education?

  • Is the program run by volunteers or hired professionals?
  • Are background checks done on all personnel? 
  • Who is the contact person for the organization if you have a problem or question?
  • What kind of staff training is provided?

Organization Questions....

  • What are the number of campers?
  • What are the camp's goals and philosophy?
  • How much emphasis is placed on fun and participation?
  • How long has the organization been in business?
  • Does the organization have injury insurance?
  • What is the schedule like? Is it a structured program or one that emphasizes a lot of free choice?
  • What is the camper-counselor ratio?
  • How does the camp insure the safety and security of its campers?
  • What medical facilities are available and what medical staff is on site?

General Questions...

  • What percentage of campers return each year?
  • What is the total cost of the camp including extras?
  • What are the sleeping arrangements/ bathroom facilities?
  • What kind of food is served and who prepares it?
  • What is the swimming instruction program like?
  • What happens when the weather is bad?
  • Is there a refund policy if the camper leaves early?
  • Are references available?

Remember you can never ask too many questions!!