Trying to decide where to send your child for summer camp sometimes can be overwhelming! Here are the top five things we suggest you look for when deciding the best place for your future camper.
1. Start with your child.
Assess if the camp will fit your child’s interests and needs. There are many options, from day camps to overnight residential camps, where campers can stay for a week or longer. Check the facility to see if the camp takes place indoors or outdoors. Numerous specialty camps also offer unique themes such as robotics, horseback riding, and even a week of fishing. Options also include inclusive therapeutic camps. The possibilities are endless – you just have to find the right one that fits your camper’s interests and needs.
2. Check the safety of the overall environment.
For 2021, make sure the camps have the required COVID-19 protocols in place. Assess the facility to see if it appears safe and maintained. Check if the staff is required to have first aid/CPR certifications, and if they go through adequate training prior to the beginning of summer. Ask for recommendations from the community about the camp. If you read a lot of negative reviews, it might be best to look for another location.
3. Make sure it benefits your family.
Review how much it costs to attend, and determine if it is financially achievable. If not, ask if they have scholarship assistance. Research the hours of operation and the dates that are available to ensure they work for you and your family, especially if you are utilizing the camp for childcare. Look at the camp’s mission statements, and see if their overall philosophy matches your family’s.
4. Consider the activity schedule.
Ask about a day in the life of the camper so you know what your camper will be doing each day. Do they remain stationary all day, are they constantly rotating through activities, or are they going out on field trips within the community? Does the schedule seem extremely repetitive or do their campers get to experience new things and opportunities each day? Decide what works best for your camper and make sure it fits his or her needs.
5. Weigh the benefits for your child.
Camp should be a time for fun and allow kids to be kids. Make sure the camp looks like an environment where your child will thrive socially, and will have opportunities to grow independently or leave camp having gained a new skill. Ensure the camp can accommodate any specific needs your camper requires, supporting them in any way.
Another good resource for parents is the American Camp Association (ACA), www.acacamps.org, which has the following recommendation for camper/counselor ratios. “ACA standards require different ratios for varying ages and special needs … At day camps, the ratios range from: one staff member for every six campers ages 4 and 5; one staff member for every eight campers ages 6 to 8; one staff member for every 10 campers ages 9 to 14; and one staff member for every 12 campers ages 15 to 17.”
Whichever camp you and your family choose, get ready for your campers to have fun, make a ton of memories, and for them to beg you to be on the lookout for registration dates for the summer of 2022!
– Cherokee Recreation and Parks staff members Lauren Voss, Jarron Amburgey and Adam Fussell collaborated on the article.