January is here, and I know that many first-time camp parents are in the process of choosing a summer camp for their child. Here is what I hope is a helpful checklist of questions as you look to give your child an unforgettable summer experience.
1. What are the camp’s safety guidelines?
As we reiterate over and over during staff training, the number one goal for counselors is to keep your child safe. Look to see if the camp has an accreditation (i.e. American Camping Association) or another trusted process for keeping tabs on camp safety.
2. What does my child need and does the camp meet that need?
What is the camp’s philosophy? One question I try and always ask new camp parents is— if your child could experience just one or two things this summer, what would it be? This answer will help you clarify what you are looking for. After this, narrow your search down to 3 or so of your top picks and do your best to verify that they really can follow through on their promises.
3. What is the camp’s camper to counselor ratio?
The more counselors in the cabin, the more time and attention your camper should receive. 8 to 1 is pretty standard in the overnight camping industry. 5:1 is really good. Here is a report on our camper to counselor ratio from last summer.
4. What is the camp’s camper return ratio?
Like many experiences, especially in the youth development and educational realm, people vote with their decision to return or not. From what I’ve observed over the years a 70% return ratio is pretty good.
5. What are other camp families saying?
I highly encourage you to call the camp directly and get three or more references from families in your area that you can contact. Also, try connecting with other current families through Facebook to get blind references on the camp. And it never hurts to meet current families in person or over coffee to get a better perspective.
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Finally, remember that you can always reach out to us if you would like to know more about our answers to the above questions!