Choosing the Best Summer Camp for Your Child

Summer is almost here and you are already thinking about summer plans for your child. Are you considering summer camp for your child? If you are, you may be overwhelmed at all the choices you have. Here is how you can choose the best summer camp for your child and ensure they have a great summer at the same time.

Choose the type of summer camp– The first thing you need to do when choosing a summer camp is to choose the type of summer camp you want to send your child to. This will help you narrow down a list to focus on. Day camp is usually a 6 to 8-hour program that is Monday through Friday. Overnight camp is usually for kids 7 or 8 and older, where kids spend 2 to 4 weeks. Specialty camps are focused on one particular interest. For instance, there is dance camp, basketball camp and science camp.

Make a list of local summer camps– There are a few websites that will help you find summer camps in your area. The American Camp Association has a listing of over 3,500 camps that are accredited. Being accredited by the American Camp Association means that the summer camp has met state standards. Another great site is Summer Camps, which allows you to filter your search by not only your local area, but also by interest, overnight camps and special needs camps.

Call or visit to ask questions– This is probably the most important step in the process. There are questions you want answers to before making that final decision. Here are some of the more important questions to ask:
• How is your staff screened, hired and trained? All staff should have background checks done and have completed first aid training.

• What is the camper to staff ratio? According to the American Camp Association, day camps should have a ratio of 1 counselor per 8, 10 or 12 kids, depending on their age and overnight camps should have a ratio of 1 counselor per 6, 8 or 10 kids, again depending on their age.

• How are conflicts between campers handled, should they arise? The practices that the summer camp uses to handle these conflicts should be in line with your parenting practices.

• What is a typical day like for the campers? There should be a mixture between structured activities, indoor activities, outdoor activities and free time.

• Is there a medical staff that is always onsite? There aren’t any federal guidelines in place, the majority of states have guidelines when it comes to summer camp healthy and safety concerns. Overnight camps should have either a licensed doctor or a registered nurse onsite. Day camps, at the minimum, should have direct phone access to the local doctor.

Images via Getty Images

Mamasita Amber
Mama of three children and proud new mama of a standard poodle named Prince Miguel.

23 Responses to “Choosing the Best Summer Camp for Your Child

  • My daughter used to love summer clubs and camps when she was younger. Her brother is another story, I wish I could get him more involved in these life experiences.

  • I never went to summer camp before but I did go to summer clubs. Summer camp would have been so much fun I think, great tips on choosing a summer camp x

  • I remember loving camp as a kid! It was always so much fun. I can’t wait until my kids are old enough to enjoy it as well.

    robin rue
    4 years ago

    I won’t let my kids do a sleepaway camp, but a day camp is fine – as long as I check it out and approve that is 😉

  • I’ve never been to a summer camp, and my girls have never been to one. I just had too much fun in the summer growing up with my youth group at church, they always had something going on. However, these are some great tips for finding one for your child!

  • Summer camp choices can be so overwhelming and confusing! Especially when you want the best for your child. Super helpful tips to be aware of – especially how conflicts are handled. Smart.

    Kristina Paché Ferency
    4 years ago

    I’ve never looked at summer camps before. I’d like to do it when my boys are older so they way they keep busy and are having a blast during summer break!

    4 years ago

    This is neat! It’s great there is a big variety of summer camps to choose from to touch about every interest a child may have. This will help make summer very fun!

  • Great tips! My kids are all past this age now. It is really important to know where you are sending them. One other thing I think of is that is there a way for you as the parent to see pictures of your child during camp or after camp (from the week). Without those pictures, my daughter wouldn’t even remember camp. She has a horrible memory. So thankful for the pictures I have capturing her having such a blast.

  • It’s really important that you ask your child about what camp interests them the most. They will enjoy it better when we pick the one that they really want. These are great tips.

    Reesa Lewandowski
    4 years ago

    I am having such a hard time committing my kids to a camp for the summer. These are great things to think about when making my decision!

  • Summer camps can be great fun to keep them entertained over the holidays but this year we will be focusing on expanding our family from 1 to 2 nd integrating them together!

  • Great tips. Summer camps can be a lot of fun, but you really do need to ensure you are choosing the right place for your kids. Not all camps are ideal for everyone.

  • My kids are just getting old enough to start thinking about summer camp and the whole process can be overwhelming! These are great things to think about!

  • Summer Camp is one of the great things to keep the kids active and have fun at the same time. The tips are spot on, they highlight the most important things parents need to consider before sending their kids to the chosen camp.

  • Visiting beforehand and asking questions is very important. After all, you are entrusting them with your child and they have to prove themselves worthy of that responsibility.

  • I need to pick out Summer activates for my 3 year old. He’s too young for an official camp, but I need something. He’s ready.

  • We have only done a couple of day camps with my oldest (music related) and they were local, so it wasn’t too hard for me to find out information, but these are really great questions to consider! I’m not sure I am ready for my babies to go to an overnight camp yet though!

    Krystle Cook
    4 years ago

    I have looked into summer camps for my kids. These are all such great suggestions.

  • Our daughter went to 4H camp not too far from where we live. She seemed to really enjoy it. I personally would not have liked it because the buildings that they stayed in were not air conditioned. I would have been miserable, but she really liked it.

  • My kids enjoyed their overnight camp experience (and I loved the break). Your tips are great for those who are still selecting.

  • Our kids aren’t old enough for camp yet but these are great tips. Maybe when they are a bit older.

  • Great thoughts on finding the right camp! Asking the questions in advance to make sure its a good fit is so important.

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