By Bette Bussel
American Camp Association
Camps do a great job of featuring their most important information on their websites. You can see photos, download brochures and applications, review FAQs, view videos and read descriptions of everything from the program to the camp “culture,” which is super important to finding a camp that is the right fit.
Research the answers to the following questions so that the time you may have for conversation with a camp representative (in person or over the phone) can be focused on the most important aspect of the fit between your child’s needs and interests and what the camp is offering. Read and review camp materials before determining which questions to ask in person.
Here are questions to ask for over-night camps:
Is the camp accredited by the American Camp Association? Is it licensed or regulated by the state? What other regulations does the camp follow?
What training does the staff receive on safety, supervision, counseling, problem solving and other issues unique regarding working with children?
What is the most important thing for families to know about your program?
Is the price all-inclusive, or are there extra charges for registration, uniforms, horseback riding, t-shirts, waterskiing, group photos or field trips?
Is transportation available? If so, what are the specifics? Is there an additional cost?
How will the camp meet my child’s special dietary or physical needs?
In what way may I communicate with my child and with staff while he or she is at camp?
How does bad weather affect the daily schedule?
What about family visiting days or evenings? Will there be performances, games or events that family members are welcome to attend?
What is unique about your camp?
How does your camp program grow from summer to summer with a child? What brings campers back?
Here are questions to ask for day camps:
Is before/after camp care available? If so, who cares for the children and what activities are offered? What is the additional cost?
Is lunch provided? At what cost? How about breakfast?
How and where do I drop off or pick up my child?
Bette Bussel is the executive director of the American Camp Association, New England. The ACA New England supports camp experiences, educates camp professionals and staff, consults on camp best practices and advocates for camp quality. Visit acanewengland.org or call (781) 541-6080 for more information.