The winter, summer or march break camp your neighbour or friend raves about may not be the right fit for your child. The "best camp " for your child and family comes from first-hand research based on your distinctive set of needs and desires—and that process demands a little investment of time. Not only will you find an appropriate fit for your child, but you'll also find a camp that you and your child will rave about.
|Step 1 - Identify your needs
|Step 2 - Do your homework and research
|Step 3 - Visit camps and information sessions
|Step 4 - Submit applications
Family circumstances and the individual needs of your child will affect your choice of camp. Before you even start browsing through glossy brochures and surfing camp websites, decide what it is you are looking for in a camp or program and why. A compatible fit is all-important.
Camps are numerous and diverse. There are camps that focus on music and athletic programs, camps that serve religious communities and camps that offer a range of academic programs. Learn more about the different types of camps available.
Before you can compare what they have to offer, define and write down your needs, wants and circumstances. Wants, needs and wishes, should be on your list. A day camp en route to work or an overnight camp within two hours of the cottage might be logistically important. Two weeks of improving his skills at a specialty computer or performance camp might excite your son, but your daughter might perk up at the prospect of days spent exploring nature and trying something new. What about rock climbing or wakeboarding?
Not sure where to start? Here's a helpful list of things to consider.
Doing your research beforehand will lead to a more informed and thoughtful choice, and a smooth camp experience for you and your child.
1. Dedicate time to the project.
Good decisions are best made without time restrictions. Research your options ahead of time and discuss them with friends and relatives.
2. Focus on the needs of your child.
Use the priority list you created as a checklist when researching camps. Determine what is a necessity, and what you can live without.
3. Consider your budget.
Camp fees will vary in cost depending on a number of factors: day or residential, transportation, the size of the camp, if it is a specialty or general camp. Determine your financial situation and how much you are willing to spend. More information on money matters.
4. Read camp profiles and check out camp websites.
Learn more about your camp options and what is available. You can read more than 185 camp profiles with links to websites and contact e-mails directly from this website.
5. Generate a short list of camps
Using your list of priorities, compile a short list of camps to research further. The Advanced Search is an excellent tool to generate a list of camps specific to your needs. Read camp profiles, reflections from parents and campers and request additional information by clicking on the inquiry tab.
6. Request information packages and watch camp videos
Many camps have additional print and online information packages with more on their missions, philosophies and day-to-day operations. Some also have videos that give you a sneak peek of life at camp. Download online brochures and watch summer camp videos here.
7. Contact camps and ask questions.
Call camps and ask to speak with the Camp Director. There is no silly question. Whatever is on your mind, ask the camp about it. They should openly welcome your inquiries. Visit the Information sessions and questions to ask page on this webiste for a list of questions to ask, or print a list of questions to ask so you have them handy when your on the phone.
Attend camp visitor days or ask to tour the facility. Think about doing this either earlier in the summer or the year before you want your child to go to camp. Some distant camps will hold information sessions in central locations, giving parents a chance to meet staff and families already involved in the camp. Find camps that are holding information sessions near you by visiting the Information Session Dates on this website.
Once you're at a camp, you wont want to leave, but before you go, reflect again on your priorities: Let your written lists of needs, wants and wishes from Step 1 serve as a compass, keeping you on track. Organize your questions and don't be afraid to ask them. Camps will welcome your interest and inquiries.
Some questions may apply more to a residential versus day camp ro to a special need or specialty camp, but here are a few questions to start you off.
- What is your camp's philosophy or mission statement?
- How many campers are there in each session? What is the age range and how is that handled?
- What programs and activities are offered? How do they work for different age groups?
- What kind of training do counsellors receive?
- What emergency policies and procedures are in place?
- How does the camp deal with homesickness?
- Can you refer me to parents of previous campers?
- What is the camper-to-counsellor ratio?
- What are the camp facilities, equipment and setting like?
- How are behaviour and discipline issues handled?
- Is there any funding available or can the camp issue a tax receipt?
Read more – A detailed list of questions to ask and things to consider on your camp tour or visit. Click Here.
Armed with first-hand knowledge, you've narrowed down your choices and you're ready to give your child and unforgettable experience. Now it's time to prepare your child — learn more about Preparing Your Child For Camp and what to bring to camp.