How Do I Choose the Right Camp for My Child?

January 28, 2013

Many parents are starting the search for their child’s perfect summer camp experience NOW. With over 2,400 ACA-accredited camps nationwide, parents have many options. Along with choices like location, session-length, and budget, here are a few things to consider as you make an informed decision:

  • Philosophy and Program Emphasis —Ask questions about learning approaches, how behavioral and disciplinary problems are addressed, and how adjustment issues are handled.
  • Training and Education — Don’t be shy about asking for the education and background of the camp director and staff. At a minimum, camp staff should be trained in safety regulations, emergency procedures and communication, behavior management techniques, child abuse prevention, appropriate staff and camper behavior, and specific procedures for supervision. Families should ask about camper-to-staff ratios and supervision in cabins and for various activities, like swimming and athletics.
  • Special Needs — For a child with special requirements, parents should ask the camp director about needed provisions and facilities, nursing staff, the storage of medicines, and special dietary needs.
  • References — Asking for references is generally one of the best ways to check a camp's reputation and service record. Ask if the camp is accredited. If not, ask why. ACA accreditation is the best evidence parents have of a camp's commitment to the health and safety of campers.
  • Involve the Camper —The more involved children are in the process, the more ownership they feel. This helps ease concerns about camp, and can ultimately help make a child’s camp experience more successful.

Ultimately, it is important for families to remember that they know their child best, and are best able to determine which camp experience is right. By visiting ACA’s family resource site,, families have access to the Find a Camp search, tips for planning a camp experience, expert advice, and research.

Photo courtesy of Skyline Camp and Retreat Center, Almont, Michigan