CROMWELL -- As parents consider the various aspects involved in selecting a summer camp for their children, they will find a staggering number of choices for campers with particular interests.
Summer camps remain extremely popular. According to the American Camp Association (ACA), more than 14,000 camps in the U.S., serve over 14 million campers every summer.
“Traditionally, selecting a summer camp was fairly straightforward, because they would typically offer the same activities,” according to Connecticut Better Business Bureau spokesman Howard Schwartz.
“There are number of camps with a diverse menu of specialties for young people, such as learning new skills, enjoying their existing hobbies or interests, in addition to participating in sports, cookouts, overnight trips and the other activities that make summer camp appealing.”
Specialty camps offer activities such as archaeology, biology, business skills, chemistry, computer courses, foreign languages, geology, journalism, marine and veterinary sciences, math, medicine and robotics. The options allow campers to develop new skills and interests, and give them the opportunity to consider what sort of career path they may want to follow in the years ahead.
When looking for a summer camp, parents may want to use the same approach as they would when selecting a daycare center. Although a website and marketing material may provide a great deal of information, BBB recommends visiting the facilities and asking questions.
Connecticut Better Business Bureau has some tips and a checklist to help parents select a summer camp that is safe, as well as fun.
Questions to ask during an on-site summer camp visit:
- How long has the camp been in business?
- Has ownership changed hands recently?
- What are the camp director’s qualifications and experience?
- Are background checks performed on all staff and volunteers?
- Do any activities require extra fees to participate?
- Can the camp accommodate campers with special dietary and other needs?
Other helpful questions include:
What are the policies in the event of injury? How close is the nearest hospital? What policies do they have to keep campers safe? And how do they deal with campers who get homesick?
Ask for references to determine whether there is anything the campers or parents liked or didn’t like about the camp and whether they would recommend the facility to other parents.
Look for camps that are certified by the American Camp Association, whose accredited camps must meet as many as 300 nationally-recognized standards.
Check bbb.org, to see whether there are any complaints against a camp, and if so – how they were handled.