A group of kids in a tug-of-war game
A group of kids in a tug-of-war game

When school lets out for the summer, many parents struggle with ideas on how to keep their children busy during those long lazy days of summer. Summer camps give parents a place to send their children so they can continue to learn and grow through the summer and stay busy too! I have had the opportunity to attend several camp expos over the years and it gave me a great deal of insight into this very issue that I also face with my own children every summer.

Before deciding on a camp for your kids this summer, here are 5 tips on how to find a summer camp that meets not only the needs of your child, but also those of your family:

#1-Determine what type of summer camp you need:

Summer Camps fall into three major categories: traditional/residential camps, day camps, and specialty camps. Are you looking for a day camp your child can attend everyday during your working hours, or would you prefer a residential camp where they are away from home for a few nights or even weeks at a time? Would you prefer they attend a specialty camp where they learn a skill such as swimming, computers or art? The biggest mistake parents can make is to send a child to a camp that the parent wants them to experience, not the child. It is important to involve your child in the selection process by discussing with them what types of summer camps would interest them, and use this information as the basis for beginning your camp search.

#2-Determine a budget:

It is important that you determine in advance how much of your budget you are willing to allocate towards the summer camp experience for your child. If cost is of concern for your family, you may not want to send your child to a month-long residential summer camp because they can be quite expensive as you are paying for their room and food in addition to the camp experience. Tip: There are some camps that offer financial assistance if your family meets certain income requirements.

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#3-Attend local Camp Fairs:

Camp Fairs provide one-stop shopping for camps. Camp Fairs are usually held in schools, community centers, or even hotels, usually in late winter or early spring. Camps will be putting their best foot forward to impress you. Use this time to see which one offers what you and your child need and want most in a camp. At the information booths at a Camp Fair, you can browse the displays, pick up literature, and talk to camp representatives

#4-Ask for recommendations from friends:

What better way to get insight on a certain camp then from friends who have already experienced it?! Getting first hand feedback from a friend is valuable in helping you make that right decision!

#5-Plan in advance and get organized:

Regardless of whether you choose a summer day camp or a residential summer camp, you need to make sure you are very organized. For example, if your child will be attending a residential camp, make sure you plan for not only their physical needs when they are away from you, but also their emotional needs. Make a list of things they will need to take along with them (way ahead of the trip!) such as special clothes, comfort items, special cards, letters, and care packages from you. Above all, label everything. Lovable Labels offers the “Ultimate Camp Pack” which has over 150 labels for only $44.95. These labels are colorful, durable and best of all they are perfect for labeling all that camp gear from shoes to toiletries and clothing. Finally, make an emergency contact list for the summer camp coordinators, as well as one for yourself. Know the phone number and address of the camp, the names of the camp coordinators, and try to get the coordinator’s personal cell phone numbers as well.