Before sending your child to a summer camp for international students, consider a few of the following guidelines and carefully research the type of environment most suitable for his or her needs.
Summer Camp for International Students
For many children in North America, going to summer camp is almost a rite of passage. Summer camp is a place where they can meet new friends, gain independence, build character, learn survival and life skills, and embrace nature, all while making lifelong memories. For international students attending camps in Canada, the camp experience further allows them to gain confidence in speaking English and to learn more about a new culture and different customs. It may also provide them training in a specialized area that they would not be exposed to at home (e.g., horseback riding).
With so many options to choose from, careful planning will enable you to make the choice that’s best for you and your child. Once you find camps that meet your basic requirements (e.g., extensive classes in ESL or the area of specialty taught by certified teachers, counsellors with safety training, and a staff nurse), think about which environment and cultural activities your child would enjoy. Also carefully check references on both the camp and its staff to ensure your child’s safety and satisfaction.
Where to Get Information on Summer Camps for International Students
Typically, you can gather key information from local camp representatives. These representatives also assist with the registration process. While you can also conduct research and register directly via the Internet, working with a representative is usually the easiest route. As Patrik Simunec, president of MWS Student Camps in Montreal points out, “International families booking through a local rep will also generally avoid work associated with registering, arranging transportation, visa (if necessary), etc. All these services are offered by the local rep/agency.”
Finally, before considering sending your child to Canada, consider the following:
Visit your closest Canadian embassy to find out if students from your country require a visa to attend camp; if so, a general tourist visa should suffice. Camps will issue visa support documents such as letters of acceptance and notarized custodianship upon full payment of camp fees. Further, visa centres ask for full payment of fees prior to issuing visas
Provide the camp written permission for your child to attend camp/travel independently
Find out if there is an international camper liaison, perhaps even one who speaks your native tongue, to help your child feel more comfortable and transition better into a new environment. Barring this, ask camps if they have a structure in place for international students
Purchase travel and health insurance for the duration of your child’s stay, as needed, and provide the camp director a copy
Carefully label all clothes and equipment with permanent marker
Pack an adequate supply of medication as needed, labelled with dosage instructions, and instruct staff on your child’s medical needs
Send some snacks or microwaveable foods from home with your child to supplement the foreign Canadian fare offered in the cafeteria
Make and provide the camp copies of all flight and other travel arrangements
Coordinate with the camp to have your child picked up from the airport upon arrival and dropped off at the end of his stay, and have this agreement formalized in writing
Provide the camp emergency contacts and discuss how any emergencies will be dealt with.