Break out the bug spray and sunscreen— summer is on its way! Before you know it, the kids will be out of school, and you’ll face the challenge of occupying and entertaining them all season long. Fortunately, the Coast offers plenty of activities and attractions to keep the little ones busy — including numerous summer camps.
Don’t delay in reserving your child’s spot in the many exciting and unique camps available throughout the season. Not sure which program to choose? Here are some tips for picking the perfect summer camp for your child.
1) CONSIDER YOUR CHILD’S LIKES, INTERESTS
This advice sounds obvious, but it can’t be stressed enough. There are a host of options these days, from science and nature camps to those focused on theater and sports, so the ability to tailor your child’s experience to his or her personality has never been greater. Make sure to involve your child in the decision, and check with facilities and organizations that he or she already knows and likes; chances are they have summer camp programs or can offer recommendations.
2) REVIEW HISTORY, REPUTATION
Once you’ve whittled your camp choices down to a short list, it’s time to do your homework. Whatever program you’re considering, research it thoroughly. Is it accredited (one place to check is the American Camp Association)? What are its health and safety standards? What kind of reputation does it have, and what do reviewers have to say? What is the ratio of counselors to campers?
What mix of activities does it offer? If it’s feasible, plan an advance visit, or take a virtual tour. Diligence can make all the difference.
3) CONSIDER BUDGET, LOGISTICS
Even the world’s best summer camp can become a headache if it empties your bank account or doesn’t make sense given your location and schedule. Pickups and drop-offs can be tough to manage for families with two working parents, so make convenience a main consideration. Also bear in mind that even if the camp itself is affordable, the ancillary expenses can add up. If the camp you like is beyond your budget, investigate scholarships, payment plans, discounts and other financial aid options that may be available. Solutions exist, so don’t get discouraged.
4) REMEMBER, THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN
Do you fondly recall making friends, learning life skills and gaining confidence at camp? Don’t lose sight of the point of this whole process, which is to give your child experiences that will one day become treasured memories. Going back to the first tip, your child’s preferences should be paramount; asking him or her, “What would a great summer camp look like to you?” is a fine place to start.