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How to Choose a Summer Camp

Summer camp can be a memorable childhood experience, one that teaches new skills, offers new adventures, and introduces new friends. With such a wide range of camps available throughout the country, it can be hard to chose which one will offer the best experience for your child. It may be tempting to take the recommendation of a friend, or to send your child to the same camp your neighbor likes, but camps that are good fit for other families might not be good for yours. Take time to carefully consider the following when you select the best camp for your child:

What Do You Want out of Camp?

Better still: What does your child want out of camp? Is he interested in playing new team sports? Or does he want to learn a musical instrument? Or are you both more interested in the opportunities he’ll have to meet new people and make new friends? Once you have a better understanding of what you both want from the camp, you can begin to look for programs that match those needs. Some camps will be activities based, while others will be more free-form and focus on fostering creativity. Determine what will work best for you and your child.

The Camp Experience

Will the camp last for a couple of weeks or the whole summer? Are you more interested in a day program or a sleepaway experience? The answers to these questions will be significant in determining the right camp. If your child has never been to camp before, it may be better to start with a day program. Or, if your child suffers social anxiety or homesickness, a day program might also be preferable. Longer, overnight camp experiences might best be suited for older children or those who have spent some time away from home in the past.

Size of the Camp

A camp with a smaller number of campers will offer a more intimate experience. This could be ideal for students who have trouble interacting with their peers or who need to work on building confidence. On the other hand, larger camps present opportunities to meet a lot of different people with different cultures and perspectives. In addition to the number of campers, check out the ratio of counselors to campers. No matter the size of the overall camp, a smaller ratio of counselors is ideal.

Location

If you choose a sleepaway camp, location may be irrelevant. After all, if your child will be living away from home for the summer, the difference between 50 miles and 500 miles might not make any practical difference. However, location will be important if you or your child is nervous about the experience and want the option to visit frequently or to have the option to leave camp quickly. In these scenarios, it may be best to find something within driving distance of home.

Camp Philosophy

Finally, be sure that you ask about the camp’s overall philosophy and that it is line with what you want. Many camps are affiliated with religious organizations or social groups, and these viewpoints may not be in line with your own. Also make sure you understand the camp’s philosophy about the day-to-day experience. Will the program emphasize learning? Social interaction? If the camp’s philosophy is not stated on its Web site or promotional materials, make sure you ask.

These are just a few of the many criteria that can help you choose the best summer camp for your child. Make sure you ask a lot of questions — both of the camp and of your child — to ensure that you have made the best match.

Author Bio: Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education where she’s written on gaming dealer jobs along with online physician assistant studies programs. In her spare time, she enjoys yoga, playing piano, and working with origami.

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