Picking The Right Day Camp

March 20, 2012

Now is a great time for parents to arrange a tour of a local day camp.  Whether parents are looking for a camp for the first time for their child or thinking about switching camps, going on a tour of a few camps in your area is the best way to make the right decision for their child.

When you are on a tour, the following questions should be explored either with the camp director, to help narrow down your choices.

1.  How will my child be grouped (placed) or “bunked” with other campers? Factors such as grade, age, gender, and parent input all come together to play a role in placement. Generally though, campers are grouped by the same gender and age with approximately 10 to 16 campers per group depending on age.

2.  Who will be taking care of my child and what are their qualifications? Camps should have Counselors and Specialty staff complete an extensive application, submit 2 to 3 references from non-family members, retain a Child Abuse Clearance and a Criminal Background Check, and attend a personal interview. Day camp programs hire Junior Staff (those usually in high school) while Senior Staff can be college age or a teacher.

3.  What is the ratio of counselors to the group (bunk)? Generally, with the pre-k 3 to 4 year old campers, there are 3 counselors with 10 to 12 campers. The 5 to 7 year old campers also have 3 counselors with groups of 12 to 14 campers. Those campers entering 3rd grade and older, traditionally have 14 to 16 campers with 2 counselors.

4.  Does the camp provide (either included or as an option) transportation, and in what type of vehicle? Depending on the distance from your home as well as your work schedule, will determine whether transportation will be a requirement for your family. Will the vehicle be a bus or a van? Will it have seatbelts? Who will be the driver and what are their qualifications? Will it be door-to-door or central pick-up?

5.  Does the camp provide healthy snacks and lunch choices daily? Is lunch included in the tuition? Are there provisions made for children with allergies and other food related issues? Check out the camps choices by asking for a sample lunch menu.

6.  Is there a before and after the camp care service, and if so, is there a charge? For many working families, early and late camp care is a necessity. Find out what is the earliest time in the morning and the latest in the afternoon. Ask exactly what will take place during those times and who will be supervising the program.

By asking these questions, and others specific to your child, while on the tour of a camp, parents will learn about the camp philosophy and standards as well as find out about the type of program offered.

The blog was written by Howard Batterman and Steven Bernstein of the Diamond Ridge Camps.  You can get more information about Howard and Steven and the Diamond Ridge Camps at www.diamondridgecamps.com.