Some of my fondest memories are of playing with friends, day in and day out, at summer camp. We’d go swimming, go on field trips, watch movies, make crafts, and pretty much any other kid-friendly activity you can think of. Each day was a blast.
As I’ve begun to look for summer camps for my own kids, I’ve thought a lot about how I felt when my mom would drop me off for camp each day. All I can remember is feeling excited for the day’s activity and happy to see my friends. I don’t ever remember feeling unsafe or worried. And that’s exactly how I want my own kids to feel when they attend summer camp. I’m realizing now though how much time my parents must have spent vetting camps to make sure they’d be safe while also juggling other factors with respect to my well being, like whether I’d have friends at the camp or whether we’d be doing activities I enjoyed.
If you’re in need of advice on finding a safe summer camp for your child, here are a few tips:
Ask local churches, schools, or other youth-based organizations. Selecting a camp that will work for your child is daunting. How can you tell a good camp from a bad one? In its article on finding a great day camp, About.com suggests getting recommendations from trusted organizations, such as churches and schools. Keep in mind, too, that if your child’s school or church offers a day camp that might be where they’ll feel most comfortable.
Consider a Christian youth camp. Making a decision on who should supervise your child during the summer is never easy. That decision becomes even more difficult when you’re considering sleepaway camps. If your child is interested in going away to a camp for a week or two this summer, Christian youth camps are often safe bets. As this HopeValleyCamp.com notes in its article on selecting the right camp for your child, Christian camps provide discipline and faith-based lessons while also giving children the opportunity to form friendships with other campers.
Know what to ask camp directors and counselors. Regardless of the kind of camp you choose, as you vet each possibility, ask the camp director and counselors about the camp’s safety policies and the counselors’ childcare qualifications. This article from the American Camp Association offers common questions parents ask camp leaders. Use it as a guide to make sure you’ve got all the bases covered when it comes to your child’s safety.
Find out the camp’s “personality.” Of course, you’ll want to choose a camp where you’re confident your child will be safe. But as this article from Care.com on how to choose the right day camp notes, you’ll also want to consider whether it’s a place where your child can thrive. It advises parents to interview the camp director to find out the camp’s philosophy. For example, as the article notes, some camps promote competition between camp teams. If you think this focus on competition will be intimidating or difficult for your child it might be best to find a camp with a different philosophy.
While your child’s ultimate goal will be having as much fun as possible this summer, your goal is likely making sure they’re safe and properly cared for when they aren’t under your supervision. When you take these steps, you have a better chance of making sure they’re safe and sound and giving yourself a little peace of mind.
Lindsay M writes for PublicHealthCorps and, in her spare time, enjoys satisfying her other passions – like cooking, biking and photography. She is happily married to her high school sweetheart and is the mother of twin girls.