7 Tips for Your Summer Camp Search

Thursday, May 07 at 09:40 AM
Category: Personal Finance
Summer camp. It's an annual ritual for many fortunate kids — a chance to form new friendships, enjoy the great outdoors, and even build self-esteem and that all-important independence. And whether your child is a seasoned camper or the new kid on the camp block, it's important to do your research to find just the right fit.

With so many camp options — day camps, sports camps, overnight camps and art camps — how do you determine the one that's best for your child? Here are some ways to narrow your search:
 
  1. Talk to your child first. It's great to know there are probably dozens of camp options available for your child. However, before you explore any of them, it's important to start your exploration with the person most impacted by your decision — your child. Ask your child what interests they have and what the "perfect camp" would be like for them.
  2. Choose a camp type. The decision of what type of camp to choose will depend on many factors, including your child's age, interests and geographic location. If your child is a teenager, for example, you may want to consider an overnight camp, which would provide them with the opportunity to develop their independence.
  3. Determine your budget. Camp tuitions vary considerably, so it's important to determine a budget before you begin searching. Keep in mind many camps offer scholarships, so be sure to inquire about them.
  4. Start your search engines. Once you determine the type of camp, you can begin to search by using online resources, such as the American Camp Association's website.*
  5. Ask questions. Once you have list of potential camps, it's important you interview camp directors or admissions staff to determine if the camp is a good fit. Some questions to ask include:
    - What is the camper-to-counselor ratio? 
    - Can they handle any special or dietary needs for your child? 
    - How can you communicate with your child (if overnight camp)? 
    - What is the daily schedule? 
    - How are disciplinary issues handled? 
    - What is the percentage of campers who return each year? 
    - How old are the counselors? 
    - What backgrounds do the counselors have? 
    - What medical procedures or personnel does the camp have in place?
  6. Make a visit. If you've narrowed down your search to a few camps, take the time to go and visit them. It would be wise to bring along your child. This is especially important if the camp is an overnight camp. The last thing you want to do is have your child homesick and unhappy.
  7. Check references. You can ask the camp admissions personnel for a list of references. Take the time to call them. Also research the ratings and reviews of the camp online.
Even though you're the parent, doing your homework in searching for a camp can help ensure your child — and you — have a good experience and are both "happy campers."

Links marked with * go to a third-party site not operated or endorsed by Arvest Bank, an FDIC-insured institution.

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