As you begin to look into summer camp options for your children, look beyond the pretty brochures and friendly sales pitches. Make sure the camp you have in mind is safe, well supervised and not a financial trap.
Dig deeper than whether a camp has bird watching, bracelet weaving or swimming lessons. Find out if it has a history of complaints, and make certain it has been in business long enough to substantiate its claims.
Visit the camp and pay careful attention to living, eating, medical and recreational facilities. Be sure to ask about safety procedures, particularly for water activities, archery or off-site trips. Inquire about the staff-to-camper ratio, the criteria for hiring counselors and whether a doctor or nurse will be on-site. Also ask about the camp’s insurance coverage.
Ask to see a daily schedule, even if it’s from last season. Make note of the hours, the variety of activities, the type of food that is served and any transportation that is involved.
Cover financial matters up front. Know all the fees up front, from the base price and any extra activities charges to whether meals and transportation are covered. Get everything in writing, including details about the deposit and refund policy.
Get references from parents of repeat campers, and ask why they recommend the camp. Inquire with the camp about the camper and counselor return rate.
Look for camps accredited by the American Camp Association, a nonprofit that works to ensure the quality of summertime programs. Accreditation with the ACA means the camp meets up to 300 nationally recognized standards.