Questions for Camp Seekers
January 21, 2020
Summer camp is a New England tradition going back to 1861, but in the age of instant access to information, the camp search can feel overwhelming at first. Sometimes, families need help getting started. No two families follow the same path to selecting a camp, even if they’re attending the same camp. However, there are general guidelines and questions that most camp seekers should consider when beginning their hunt.
The process begins at home, and below are a series of questions designed to help jump-start your quest for the right camp. Some of these questions are for the camper and their family, and others are recommended for talking with prospective camps.
In-between the conversations at home and the conversations with camps, families should use ACA, New England’s Find a Camp Tool to build a list of potential camps. Go to these camps’ websites. Read their information, watch their videos, and look at their pictures. Compare what you learn online with the answers that came out of family talks. If the camp looks like a potential match, keep them on the list and plan on reaching out to the director.
Questions from the camp-seeking family to consider themselves:
- What or who prompted the camp conversation? Is this a family tradition? Is the camper receiving encouragement from friends? Are you all looking for an opportunity to learn skills, take chances and make friends? Is there a specific sport or skill your camper wants to develop at camp?
- What values would you like to see reflected in your child’s camp? Camps are intentional communities. What they do and why is reflected in the staff they hire, schedules they follow, activities they offer and materials they produce. It’s good to set expectations for this piece prior to talking with prospective camps.
- What activities or programs interest your camper? These could be current sports or activities your child enjoys or new curiosities the future camper wants to explore.
- What type of camp are you looking for? This is like building your camp’s profile. Are you looking for a day camp or overnight experience? Should the camp be single-gender or coed? What length of session works best for your schedule (7-week, 4-week, 2-week, 1-week)? What are “non-negotiable” aspects and what are “preferences”? Take some time to create a description that feels right.
- What is your budget for camp tuition? When figuring this number, leave room for registration fees, transportation, trips, specialty programs, etc. At some camps, this could be covered under tuition while others have more a la carte pricing. Financial aid is available at many camps, but those procedures vary. Be sure to check online and any other materials you’ve collected for more information on financial help.
Questions from the camp-seeking family for potential camps:
- Is the camp Accredited by the American Camp Association? ACA Accreditation is a voluntary, peer-review process for camps. It examines all aspects of the camp’s program – programs, hiring practices, facilities, wellness policies, etc. – and is guided by nearly three hundred standards.
- What is the culture or philosophy at camp? Compare these answers to the values you’re looking for in your child’s camp experience.
- Is pricing all inclusive? Or are there additional charges for registration, uniforms, specialty programs, trips, etc.
- Is transportation to and/or from camp available, and what are the specifics?
- How may I communicate with my child one they’re at camp? Summer camp and letters go together like peas and carrots. But with newer technologies, many camps have updated ways of communicating with or seeing your child in action at camp.
- How does the camp handle dietary or physical needs or restrictions?
Questions specific to the day camp search (in addition to those above)
- Is before/after camp care available? If so, which staff are available at these times? What activities are offered? What is the additional cost?
- Are meals provided or should we pack a lunch?
- What are the pick-up and drop-off procedures for camp?
Finding the right camp for your family is just the beginning of the camp journey, and these questions are suggestions for getting you started. For more tips and tricks on what’s next, click here.