When looking at summer camps, it’s only natural to want to keep your child safe, know that they are learning and being active. You probably already have a ton of your own questions, but here are a few critical details you should keep in mind.
In this post, we’ll be discussing what to ask summer camps before you sign your child up (and why). Let’s get started!
#1: How does your camp find, screen, and train its staff?
This is a critical question because it helps you avoid camps with bad staff picks. It should be obvious by their answer whether or not their staff is trustworthy, but be sure to go see them in action just to be safe. Are they police checked? Do they have first aid training? What is their teaching background?
#2: What is your camp’s main goal and philosophy?
This question is important to determine if your child would be a good fit. What is their learning philosophy? Do they have group work? Do kids go outside? Do they prefer cooperation or competition? You should get a good gut feeling from their answer.
#3: What are your return counsellor rates?
With this question, you want to see how many counsellors typically return year over year. At typical camps, about 40-60 percent of the staff returns. If the number is lower, ask them why. While you’re at it, ask how many campers typically return – look for at least 50 percent.
#4: How many counsellors are there compared to campers?
Knowing the ratio of counsellors to campers helps you understand if there will be enough supervision. For a reference, the American Camp Association (ACA) guidelines for overnight camps call for a 1:6 ratio for ages 7 and 8, 1:8 for ages 9-14 and 1:10 for ages 15-18. Day camp guidelines want 1:8 for children ages 6-8, 1:10 for children ages 9-14 and 1:12 for ages 15-18.
#5: How does your camp handle discipline and conflict between campers?
You should be comfortable with the discipline they provide. If it seems extreme, consider another camp. Ideally you want to look for camps that reinforce positive behaviour more than punishing negative behaviour. You may want to check other operations, rules and regulations the camp enforces.
#6: Ask for references!
It’s a good idea to talk to a few past camper’s parents before making a commitment. They should be able to tell you the good, the bad, and the ugly. Check the camp’s website for testimonials or ask the camp to provide references.
Don’t forget to talk to your child about the camp as well. Ask them what they liked and didn’t like and try to get them to talk to some of the other children going. Being away from home, especially if it’s for the first time, can be stressful! Ease them into it.
If you’re looking for an excellent summer camp that can help your child learn STEM skills, leadership and cooperation, check out MakerKid’s summer camp programs. We will gladly answer all your questions and show you around.