Choosing A Camp

As you begin to explore the many options, keep in mind your child's interests and maturity level.

Think about the following items and discuss them with your child

  • How much can you afford to spend on summer camp?
  • How far away is the camp from your home? This might incur additional costs.
  • Do you want a large or small camp?
  • How many weeks does your child want to spend at camp?
  • Do you want a co-ed or single sex camp?
  • What kind of activities will your child enjoy? There are camps that offer a variety of activities. Some camps concentrate on one area like sports, the arts, academics, etc. There are special needs camps for specific populations, for example children with cancer, diabetes, physically challenged, etc.

After answering and thinking about the above questions you are ready to begin your search for a summer camp. There are thousands of camps in the United States. How to choose the right one?

Items to consider about when reviewing camps and speaking with the Camp Director:

  • What is the camp philosophy? Camp program?
  • What is a typical day like at camp?
  • What is the quality of activities and facilities?
  • What is the counselor to camper ratio?
  • What is the age and background of the counseling staff? How is the staff trained?
  • What is the percentage of staff members who return each year?
  • How does the camp insure the safety and security of its campers?
  • What is the camp's drug/alcohol policy?
  • What kind of health care is provided?
  • What medical facilities do you use?
  • What is the satisfaction level of previous campers?
  • What is the food like?
  • What is the policy on phone calls and family visits?

How to find a camp?

Preparing For Camp

It is important to prepare your child for a camp experience, whether it is for a one-week sleep away camp near your town or a four-week camp out-of-state.

Twelve Tips to Help Prepare Your Child for Camp

  1. Visit the camp, if at all possible, and meet the camp director.
  2. Talk to other families who have gone to the camp in years past to familiarize yourself with what goes on.
  3. Have your child spend a weekend with a friend. No phone calls. Talk about it with your child afterwards. How did your child feel the second night?
  4. Go over the daily schedule with your child so there are no surprises. Learn as much as you can about camp life.
  5. Teach your child how to care for him/herself. Children need to know how to select appropriate clothing, make a bed with clean sheets, put clothes away, set a table, carry out chores, handle laundry, etc.
  6. Problem solve with your child by using "what if" situations to prepare for unexpected events. What if you lose your baseball glove? What if you don't get along with another child? What if you don't feel well? Let your child brainstorm for solutions and make sure they know the "chain of command" at camp for handling problems.
  7. Familiarize your child with the outdoors. Many city children are unfamiliar with total darkness and country night sounds. Practice walking in the dark with a flashlight.
  8. Homesickness is fairly common. Missing home, parents, pets or friends is pretty normal. It is part of growing up and leaving home. Speak openly about it and your child will experience these feelings with less anxiety and more understanding. Camp staff is trained to help your child through these ups and downs.
  9. Discuss communication at camp. Does your camp allow phone calls? Letters or postcards are best although now camps have fax and email. Give your child stamped envelopes and postcards already addressed. Practice letter writing. The more your child writes to others, the more mail he/she will receive!
  10. Communicate with camp officials. Let them know if there are special circumstances or considerations regarding your child's well being or behavior.
  11. Send letters to your child before camp begins so mail is waiting when he/she arrives. Write daily keeping it simple. Send the sports or comics from the local newspaper, a cute card, a package with a word game, etc.
  12. Prepare yourself for your child going off to camp. You have chosen the best camp for your child and he/she will have a wonderful summer full of fun, new friends, new songs and many exciting experiences.


Packing For Camp

When it comes time to pack for camp, let the kids do the work!

Kids need to know what they are taking to camp. What is in the suitcase, duffle or trunk?

You need to let them help you with the packing.

  • Every camp sends a list of things to bring to camp. Follow the list.
  • Don't buy expensive clothing for camp. Clothes at camp tend to get dirty; that is just the nature of being in the outdoors.
  • Take extra socks.
  • Take old shoes, gym shoes or hiking boots. Camp is not the place to "break-in" new shoes.
  • Take a laundry bag, rain poncho, water bottle, sun block, insect repellent, flashlight, shower supplies and toiletries.
  • Put shower supplies and toiletries in a plastic bucket or "shower" container so it is easy to carry to the bathhouse.
  • Put the camper's name on everything from clothes to toothpaste. Use a permanent non-washable ink pad or marking pen.
  • Make sure all medication is in the original container and clearly marked. Know the procedure for getting the medication to the nurse.
  • Pack stationery and postcards. Put stamps on the envelopes. Have your child address some of the envelopes before he/she goes to camp with your home address as well as friends and relatives.
  • Let your child take a stuffed animal if he/she wants. Many children put them on their beds.
  • Send along pictures of your family and pets. Your child can show them to his bunk mates.
  • Pack a disposable camera instead of an expensive one. Be sure to write your child's name on the camera.
  • Clearly label your child's suitcase, duffle or trunk.
children sitting around a campfire