Questions to ask when looking for a sleep-away summer camp
Looking for a summer camp that is a perfect fit for a family is a daunting task. There are thousands of wonderful residential camps. Before coming up with a list of questions to ask a camp director, decide which type of camp is best for the child by answering these questions:
- Is the camper more suited for a single-gender or a co-ed camp, uniform or non-uniform, competitive or non-competitive, specialized or all-around, or traditional or atypical camp?
- How much is the family willing to spend to send a child to camp? Agency camps, such as YMCA and Girl Scout camps, will be less expensive than private-independent camps. Agency camps have money funneled into them from umbrella organizations, and private-independent camps generate money through tuition.
- What session length is best for your child? Session lengths can range from a few days to eight weeks.
Once the larger questions are answered, you can narrow down the list of summer camp choices. Once you come up with a short list of choices, ask these questions to find out more about the personality of each camp.
- What is the cell phone and electronic policy?
- What is the average age of the campers? What is the age range of campers?
- How long are the session lengths?
- How big is the camp? What is the maximum capacity for campers?
- What makes this camp special or unique?
- Can references be supplied?
- What is a typical day like?
- What percentage of campers and staff return each year?
- From where are the majority of campers?
- Is the camp affiliated with a religion? Is the camp non-denominational?
- Is the camp accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA) or a state-licensing agency?
- How do campers get clean laundry?
- Can requests be made for friends to live in the same bunk? (In other words, are “bunk requests” allowed?)
- How many campers live in a bunk? What is the camper/counselor ratio?
- What is the phone and email policy? Can campers call home?
- Is it better to go to camp alone or with a friend?
- Is there a Counselor-in-Training program?
- What are the cabins/bunks like? Is there electricity in the bunks?
- How long have the directors worked there?
- How old are the staff members? How is staff hired? What qualifications are needed to be a counselor?
- What are the supervision policies?
Make sure to take notes when speaking to a director, so you can evaluate the answers after the interview.
Asking all of these questions will help you find the camp that best fits your child.
Susan Chenet is the assistant director of Camp Wa-Klo, located in Jaffrey.