If you are considering sleep-away camp, assess you and your child's needs. "Traditional" camps remain the most popular, but each year new specialty options emerge—from rollerblading camp to scuba camp to language camp. The biggest factor in your child's camp experience is the composition of their camp-mates, so be sure to consider the age-range, gender, and diversity of the camp! Other important factors: your child's interests and hobbies, the length of the camp session, the distance from home, and the cost.
If you want to start researching on your own, a good starting point is the American Camping Association's website, where you can access a camp-planning calendar, browse through camp options by multiple criteria, and check camp accreditation.
Once you've narrowed down your top choices, it's a great idea to interview camp directors! Here's a helpful list of questions to ask:
- What is the camp's philosophy?
- How long have you owned and run the camp?
- Where do most of your campers come from?
- How do you handle homesickness?
- What is the camper/counselor ratio?
- How much selection is there in the schedule? How structured is the schedule?
- What are the evening activities?
- What is the level of competition?
- Will my child's special needs be met (e.g. allergies)?
- What types of trips are there? How do they travel there?
- What is the electronics policy?
- What is the visiting policy?
- What are the facilities like (e.g., flap tents vs. cabins? bathrooms vs. outhouses?)
Good luck in your search, and here's to some happy campers!