Summer camps provide a breather for many parents during that long break from school. Children need to be engaged and there are a whole lot of summer camp programs to choose from. Many parents are happy for them but how do first timers go about choosing the best camps? A camp brochure will tell you about the date and time, the location and facilities, and the activities your kids will be involved in. However, many programs are much more than that and it is for this reason that you start early to research the best ones that will make a great impact.
Look for Qualified, Experienced and Engaging Staff
The quality of camp leaders used can make or break a summer camp. Leaders who do not have experience in dealing with children possibly will not know group control. Similarly they may not know how to manage conflicts. Therefore one priority question that you need to have answered is the level of experience of the staff. Of course, staffers who have been in the business for a long time will make for a great program.
Look for Parents who keep coming back
Quality camp programs will have children asking for more and looking forward to the next camp. Ask what was so good about camp that children and parents want to do it again. In fact, a camp that has been in business for a long time does say something about its program. A poorly run camp will not stick around for long.
Look for a Camp with a Balanced Program
Many camps pursue a general program incorporating opportunities for sports, art, adventure and a variety of other activities. This way kids will find areas that will interest them. If you would like a program that focuses on a particular philosophy such as development in the arts, sports or leadership, determine if your area of need is catered to. Look to see if this is their philosophy. At the same time, a great summer camp includes opportunities for reading, doing math, cultural enhancement and exploring the environment.
Look for High Interest Programs
When campers return home they should be filled with tales to tell about their experiences. They should be able to demonstrate or relate how they have learnt from the experience. This is because they have found the activities interesting and they were fully engaged. Mind you, kids will not have an interest in every possible activity.
Look for Programs that Build a Sense of Community
A camp should provide the right environment for participants to feel that they are part of a community. Activities should be geared toward building team spirit rather than leaving children to clique. Camp leaders must have great skills in managing conflict. Programs should also be structured that teach kids that it is not about the competition, but to succeed in achieving goals.
Look for Programs Delivered in a Safe Environment
Parents will not be content unless they know their children are safe in the camp facilities. Great camps ensure that children had been seen by a doctor within the last year and have the relevant shots before allowing them to participate. Camp policy should also outline how children are dealt with in a medical emergency. Is a doctor and or nurse on site? Part of the training that camp leaders should have is administering first aid and CPR. It is important to look for programs with a history of handling homesickness, a problem which can complicate matters.
Look for a program that Accommodate Specialized Needs
A mention of special needs conjure up persons with physical or mental disabilities. A great camp program will include activities that can involve kids with such challenges. Some camps have programs specifically for them while others find ways to include them in regular program activities. In such situations a great program will employ special staff such as psychologists, teachers, social workers and speech pathologists to cater to such needs.
Many thousands of summer camp programs are run yearly. When your child returns from any of these activities, camp should have a big influence on him or her. Therefore look carefully for the best program.
Here is a great game kids could play at our summer program in Albany...