Choosing a Summer Camp

The summer camp season is soon to be upon kids of all ages. We at the Rasansky Law Firm remember our camp days fondly – scout camps, sport camps, music camps, art camps – and are now looking forward to sending our own kids off for a week or more this summer. So what are we looking for in a summer camp for our kids?

Camp Philosophy
Does the camp fit with our morals, philosophy and general outlook on life? Remember: even with a daycamp, your child’s peers and overseeing staff will have influence over your child’s outlook. Depending on the age and maturity level of your child, the family may want to weigh just how important a conflicting viewpoint or position is for your child.
Staff Qualification
Is the staff qualified to teach, mentor and supervise your child? Some camps require their instructors to be highly skilled; others require only a warm body. Ask about staff training – both for whatever the child hopes to accomplish at camp, as well as basic first aid and safety training.
Supervision Ratio
The American Camp Association recommends the following ratios: 1:6 for children aged 7-8; 1:8 for children aged 9-14; 1:10 for children aged 15-18. Ask about the ratios of supervision – not only during downtimes, but for more dangerous situations, like horseback riding or swimming, as well.
Policies & Procedures
How often can you get in touch with your child? How often can your child call or email you? Can you receive regular pictures of your child while they are away from home? Is there a policy on emotional abuse or bullying by peers? At what point will a child be sent home – for any issue? Are these policies written out and publicly available? If you are unclear about these policies, be sure to ask. And it’s a red flag if the staff hesitates to answer any of your questions.
Medical Personnel
Are the staff trained in basic first aid and safety? Are immunizations and brief medical records required as a part of attending camp? Is there a doctor, nurse, paramedic, or other qualified medical personnel on site? What is the policy regarding medications? Are doses and administration of medications recorded? How and when will you be alerted if your child falls ill?
Certification
Ask to see any and all certifications. The American Camp Association maintains a list of guidelines for registration and certification, all of which are designed to keep campers healthy and active through their summer camp experiences.
References
There is no better qualification than a personal reference for the camp. Don’t be afraid to ask for references, don’t be afraid to contact the references, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. References have agreed to be a representative of the camp. Alternatively, check around online. Many sites are devoted to evaluating summer camps, from pricing to problems.
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