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Camps: Making an Informed Decision

Determining the right match

April 2012

Today's families are faced with many decisions that need to be made on a daily basis. What do we eat for dinner? Where do we send the children to school? Cat or dog? Knowledge is power, and Camp is no exception. With literally thousands of unique camps nationwide, having critical information will help families determine which choice is best for their child.

Families should consider the following when choosing a camp:

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, www.CampParents.org, families have access to the Find a Camp search, tips for planning a camp experience, expert advice, and research.

About ACA

The American Camp Association® (ACA) works to preserve, promote, and enhance the camp experience for children and adults. ACA-Accredited® camp programs ensure that children are provided with a diversity of educational and developmentally challenging learning opportunities. There are over 2,600 ACA-accredited camps that meet up to 300 health and safety standards. For more information, visit www.ACAcamps.org.

Tags: Camp

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