8 Things to Look for in a Summer Camp
Choose a Summer Camp for Your Child
Summer may feel like it’s far away, but it is really around the corner. Looking to give your child or children an amazing summer experience? You should consider a summer camp!
There are plenty of Summer camp options in Morris County. How can you find the right one? Here are a few things to keep in mind when searching for a summer camp.
- Seek Out a Certified Camp. A lot of businesses can set up a summer camp, but if you are looking for the best of the best, look into whether or not the camp holds a certification. “When looking for a day camp, parents should first see if they are American Camp Association (ACA) Certified,” said Terry Castro, the Director of Tamarack Day Camp in Randolph, NJ. “This means the camp meets or exceeds industry-accepted and government-recognized standards.”
- Get to Know the Camp.Besides athletics, creative activities, swim lessons, biking, drama and dance etc. ask about the Camp’s culture. “Asking about the philosophy that the camp is trying to instill in the campers can help you get a better feel for which camp is best for your child,” Castro said.
“Camp is a time to challenge children to go out of their comfort zone. At first, campers may be resistant to try new things. But with the right camp philosophy and supportive staff, campers are encouraged to try, sometimes fail, but ultimately succeed in new things,” Castro added.
- Ask about the Staff.You should always inquire about how the staff members are selected. Ask about any training and if the camp conducts background checks on staff members. Also, meet the director to get a better idea of his or her leadership style—that often sets the tone for the camp.
- Consider the Timing.You may find a perfect summer camp, but if you can’t get your child there on time—or they don’t provide transportation—it could be a bust. Make sure the camp makes things easy on parents, such as providing transportation or offering flexible timing. Some camps offer before and after-care to meet a family’s schedule, which can make camp work into your day.
- What is the Lunch Program.You’ll probably have a hungry camper around the clock, so it’s important to ask the camp if meals and/or snacks are included in the tuition. You may be required to pay extra for meals, or your child may have to bring a packed lunch.
- Look up the Rates.Before signing up, parents should make sure what is—and isn’t—included in the advertised rate. Things like transportation, swimming lessons, photographs and meals can cost extra at some camps. Find out if there are any other costs associated with your child attending camp, Castro suggested.
Want to save some money on summer camp? Many camps offer discounts during their enrollment period, and some include discounts with various transportation options. Camp tuition is also tax deductible and can qualify for Flexible Spending.
“For us, if families choose an Express Location pick-up versus the Door-to-Door Transportation included in the tuition rate, they can save up to $300 per child,” she added.
“The earlier you sign up for camp the better rate you will get,” Castro said.
- Ask About Activities.Most summer day camps introduce children to a variety of different activities, including some they have not tried before. Others are camps that focus on a specific activity (i.e., baseball or tech camps).
“If a parent is looking for their child to experience different athletic and creative activities, have swim lessons, try adventure courses, or meet friends with different interests than their own, then an all-round camp is what they are looking for,” Castro said.
Technology may be a part of home and school life, but Castro centers her program on giving children the opportunity to gain true life skills like independence, social skills, confidence, integrity, resiliency, teamwork and leadership skills etc. Those are fused into most of the activities and events at Tamarack.
8, Talk to Your Child. Finally, think about what you want your child to get out of camp. And, of course, see if your child likes the camp during a private tour or open house.
For Castro and her team, summer camp isn’t just about keeping kids busy over the summer, it is so much more than that.
“It’s all in what we have to offer to the child,” she said. “An exceptional summer camp is giving that child experiences, successes, self-confidence, resilience, a chance to forge lifetime friendships, and so much more that they will take with them for life. Our Mission is to create a Summer Experience for our families so exceptional that it creates campers for life!””