Summer Camp Guide - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Summer Camp Guide

Summer camp can help children develop independence, skills, and the ability to make friends. Choosing one that is right for your child can help build fond memories that will last a lifetime. To help parents make this important decision, we've put together the following guidelines.

There are many different types of camps available today, from traditional camps, to computer and sports camps. The camp that you choose should match your child's interests. There are many theme camps that focus on a particular interest, for example, computers, the environment, sports, and music. Make sure that the camp offers a variety of activities to keep your child entertained and interested. Also keep in mind what you want your child to get out of the experience and how comfortable he or she is being away from home.

Keeping your child's interests in mind, getting recommendations from other parents or your child's teachers is a good place to start. Jeff Solomon, Executive Director of the National Camp Association emphasizes the importance of researching a summer camp, "Sometimes it is better to choose the right camp that is further away, than the wrong camp that is nearby." You can contact the National Camp Association, a not-for-profit camp advisory service, at 1-800-966-CAMP, or visit their web site at SummerCamp.org. Their services are free and they can match your child's interests with appropriate camps nationwide. If you are searching for a day camp, try calling your local YMCA, university, community college, or recreational department. Many communities offer day camps at local facilities.

After checking out a camp's reputation with your local Better Business Bureau , or by checking online reports, the BBB recommends asking the following questions before signing up your child:

  • Does the camp have good references? Ask for references and then talk to parents of campers to get a handle on their experience.
  • Are there medical facilities/personnel available in case of an emergency? How far is the nearest hospital?
  • How old is the camp? A camp that has been around for many years has valuable experience.
  • Who's on the staff? College grads and former campers are a good gauge of quality.
  • What types of activities are available? Look for a wide variety of choices.
  • What are the special interests that your child wants to explore?
  • What type of equipment is available? For example, if your child is interested in a computer camp, the camp should have the latest technology and software available. If they will be canoeing or kayaking, the boats should be in good condition.
  • Are there any physical, intellectual, or social limitations that should be considered?
  • What kind of emphasis will your child profit from the most? For example: Is a lot of structure desirable, is social interaction with members of the opposite sex important, or does your child need a place where he or she is encouraged to develop at their own pace?
  • Is your child ready for a sleep-over experience?
  • What is the staff to camper ratio? Keep this ratio in mind if your child needs extra attention.

Most general camps will provide programs in some team sports such as baseball and soccer, individual sports like tennis, and waterfront activities such as swimming and sailing, as well as some outdoor life options in hiking and canoeing. Many of these camps also provide campers with the opportunity to get extra instruction in any of the areas that are offered. In making a decision about a camp, it is vital that you and your child look into the total camp program and that you examine the quality of the staff and facilities available to support that program.

(Information provided by the Better Business Bureau)

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