First consider the age of your child…
Before you decide to send your child to camp, whether day camp or overnight camp, you must consider the age of your child. Not just the physical age, but the maturity age as well. Some children are ready for overnight camp at age 7 and some camps do take children that young. Consider if you child can make friends without you there to prompt them. Does your child have an independent streak in them? If so they may be ready for camp. Remember, all children get homesick at camp – it does pass and the counselors are trained to deal with this – no one has ever died from being homesick.
What is your child interested in?
When considering camp for your child, if you pick one that specializes in what your child loves, the camp experience will be a happy one. There are camps for animal lovers, surfers, swimmers, future actors and cooks. You can find a camp for almost any interest by checking the internet and asking around at school and church functions. Does you child like to be around different animals? Consider a horse camp. Or are they more outgoing and free spirited? Consider a theater camp. Do they love the water? Consider a surf camp. Always ask your child what they would be interested in and then show them what camps are available.
Consider what kind of camp, overnight or day camp?
Ask your self the following questions: has your child ever been away from you for more than a full day? When they spend the night at a friend’s house, do they seem comfortable or hesitant to be gone that long? Has your child ever spent the whole weekend away from you? Can you handle not knowing what your child is doing 24/7? Do you trust others to take care of your child? Does you child have any ongoing health concerns such as asthma or any thing that needs daily medication? The answers to these questions should help you decide on a summer day camp where they come home each night, or a residential camp where they are gone 5-7 days.
Fees – What can you afford?
Camp fees run from $200 a week to $1000 a week. Residential/overnight camps are usually the most expensive, but some day camps with your local museum or scouting group can be expensive as well. To find a camp in your price range, decide what you can afford BEFORE you start searching. It is easy to be swayed by all the activities a camp offers to pay a little bit more but careful searching will help you stay on budget. Church, YMCA and Boys/Girls Club camps are available at reasonable rates and sometimes offer scholarships to campers. Ask at school and at church to see if they recommend any particular camp.
Consider Transportation to and from the camp…
Always check to see how the child will get to camp. Do you need to take them there to check them in or is there a bus that takes them to the camp? Either way, make sure you know what time of day you need to have the kids at camp or at the bus stop. Some camps sign in on Sunday morning and pickup to go home is the next Saturday morning. Some camps are Monday through Friday and may require you to take time off work just to drop them off at camp. Make sure you are available at the right time to pick up and drop off your child.
Some Additional Concerns…
Most camps require a recent physical or doctor’s and dental check up before registering for camp. Check with the camp you are applying to and they can send you the form for your pediatrician to fill out. If you are considering sending your child to camp this summer, it might be a good idea to schedule a physical and dental exam before school is out. This information is usually mentioned in the registration process but is often overlooked or put off until it is too late.