If you went to camp as a child and have fond memories of nights under the stars, rowing on the lake and most importantly the friendships you made, you may want your child to have that same experience. Not only can it be a fun experience, it can also help your child to achieve a greater level of self-confidence and independence. But, in order for that to happen, you will need to choose a camp that has all of the right ingredients-and they may be different for every child. You need to find one with the right focus, the proper age level, an appropriate level of supervision and with the right safety measures put in place.
You may find that the choices for where you send your child to camp are much more varied today than they were 20 or 30 years ago. You can choose from the “traditional, ” music, drama, space, sports of every variety, weight loss, technology, and so on and so on. Talk to your child about what they would be most interested in. If they are going to be the one spending time there, they should have at least somewhat of a say in what they will be doing.
Before age 9 or 10 many children are not ready to attend a sleep-away camp. That is just fine. There are many programs that you can find in your local metropolitan area that offer only day classes and activities. Although you want your child to learn independence, pushing them into an overnight camp too early may be detrimental for them over the long run. However, if the duration is very short (2 or 3 days) and the staff is well-qualified to handle a little homesickness, you may still want to try it.
Talk to the directors of the camp to find out what the staff to child ratio is. For younger children the ratio will need to be smaller than for older children. If your child is going to a sleep-away program, find out what the sleeping arrangements are, and if a counselor will be with the group 24 hours a day. How much free time, if any, is given at the camp and what is the daily schedule like?
One of the main considerations should be the safety measures that are taken. Do they have medical personnel on staff and what is their level of training? If your child has any special medical concerns or medications, is the staff at the camp trained to handle any complications? If your child gets a minor illness, will they be sent home or do they have an “infirmary” or care facility?
There are many other factors you may want to look at when you choose a camp for your child including: coed or single gender, local or out of the area, one week or several weeks, summer or winter, and so on and so on. The most important thing you can do is to research and to talk with your child.
Eriani Doye writes articles about Home and Family. For more information about choosing your child's camp and camp visit dmcamp.com.