By Bette Bussel
What are your leading camp search criteria? Which are “non-negotiable” and which are “preferences”?
What type of camp are you looking for?
Which of your family’s values should be reflected in the camp philosophy? How religious? How competitive? How diverse? How much camper choice? Camps are intentional communities. What they do and why is reflected in the staff members they hire, the schedules they follow, the activities they offer and their materials.
What activities/programs interest you and your child? What level of intensity are you looking for? Are you looking for opportunities to try new activities, to play, to advance current skills, to practice, to compete or to specialize?
What kind of facilities will your camper consider? Discuss electricity, bathrooms and dining.
What session length, from eight weeks to a few days, is comfortable for you, for your child and for your family’s summer schedule? The most common session lengths are: full season (7-8 weeks), half season (3-4 weeks), two weeks, and one week. Remaining flexible about session length can increase your camp options.
What camp clientele do you want to consider? There are camps for boys only, girls only, coed, brother/sister, religious groups, under-served populations and children with special needs.
What is your budget for camp tuition? Camp remains an affordable option for nearly everyone. Some camps offer financial assistance. Financial aid procedures vary from camp to camp, so be sure to ask and to read brochures and websites carefully.
Betty Bussel is the Executive Director of the American Camp Association, New England.