Choosing Your Child’s Summer Camp, A list of Questions

Mar '13 NC web banner-1

 by:  Joella Baker

Choosing a summer camp for your child involves some important research. Remember, the camp experience will have a significant impact on your child’s life, so doing the appropriate research and making sure you choose the right camp is essential.

Here are some questions for you to ask before signing your child up for a camp.

The main thing is to determine your goal for your child at the camp.  Is it an educational camp, a sports camp, a skills camp or just a fun activities camp?  What are your child’s interests and goals?  Determine this before signing up for a camp and ask these questions….

  1. What do you and your child want to gain from the camp? Learn new skills, develop more self-confidence or become more independent?
  2. What is the experience of the staff?
  3. Are there any physical, intellectual or social limitations that should be considered?
  4. What is the cost of the camp?
  5. Where is the camp located?
  6. What are the hours of the camp?
  7. What are the specific goals the camp offers for each child?

Types of Camps Matter:  Specialty Camps

Most camps specialize in a specific skill or learning experience.  These are often called specialty camps.  In this case, you should ask the following questions….

  1. Will the program encourage the child to try new things?
  2. What is the philosophy regarding competition and the level of competitiveness?
  3. Is your child required to possess a specific skill level?
  4. Is instruction given in each activity?
  5. How structured is the program? If the child chooses not to participate in an activity, will there be an alternative activity the child can do?
  6. Is your child willing to make a commitment to spending a major portion of the day in one activity or sport?

Specialty camps are great for kids who want to excel at a sport they love on an activity that fulfills them or an educational program in which they thrive.  There are so many options and choices out there, so make sure you choose wisely when selecting a specialty camp. 

A few more questions to focus on before you decide on a camp

First, select a few camps and start to compare them.  Review the websites, brochures and videos with your child, and pick the ones that look fun and will help your child have a great experience while achieving their camp goals.  Most of all, make sure your child will have fun.  After all, summer is all about having fun.  The camp experience should be all about summer fun while gaining life and specific skills at the same time.  Remember to call camp directors or meet with them if you have more questions. They’ll give you more detail and you can ask specific questions like:

  1. What is the director’s age and background? How long has the director run this camp?
  2. What are the camp’s goals and philosophy?
  3. What kind of camper is most likely to have a good experience at this camp?
  4. What facilities does the camp have and how convenient are they for campers to get to?
  5. What is the schedule like? Is it a structured program or one that emphasizes a lot of free choice?
  6. What is the camper-counselor ratio and what are the characteristics of most of the staff?
  7. What kind of staff training is provided?
  8. What percentage of campers return each year?
  9. What is the total cost of the camp including extras?
  10. What is the swimming instruction program like?
  11. Is there a safety plan?
  12. What is the food like and who prepares it?
  13. What is the policy about food packages, letters home, TV, trips to town, and so forth?
  14. What medical facilities are available and what medical staff is on campus?
  15. Is there a refund policy if the camper leaves early?
  16. Will the director supply references?
  17. What happens when the weather is bad?
  18. How does the camp program meet individual needs and differences?
  19. What kind of insurance coverage is there?

In the end, it’s important to discuss the camp with your child and allow your child to get involved in the selection process. Review your child’s preferences and let your child ask questions too.  Most of all, ask for references of families who have had their child attend the camp. Speaking with these families can give you valuable insight about the camp and the families that send their children there.

I personally hold summer camps at The Zelienople Community Park each summer for Triathlon, Running for Sports and Cross Country.  My camps continue to grow each year.  We are unique in that parents do get a discount if they agree to volunteer at our camp for the week.  Space is limited on that.  We do have a safety plan and activities to do if it rains.  Our camps are fun and teach new skills, while allowing kids to still play and just be kids.  At our camps, we provide all the food and allow the kids to make their own healthy snacks throughout the week.  If you would like more information on the Get Fit Families Summer Camp Program, please visit our website at