If you're a nervous mom like me, the idea of sending my child to sleepaway was daunting. Here are my top 10 tips to finding the right camp.
1. Talk to everyone! And I mean everyone. Talk to the camp director before you go to visit and ask all your questions. No question should be too silly. If you don't like the director, don't visit the camp.
2. Do your research. Ask for references. You'll want to talk to people who have children that are around the same age and gender and have similar interests. I also liked talking to people with older kids--to see if the camp is someplace that they'll stay for many years to come.
3. Find out what the medical situation is. Who is taking care of your kid? Is there a doctor on staff? How far away is the hospital from the sleepaway camp? If my child does get hurt, who takes him to the hospital?
4. Check out the camp's website and material. You can tell a lot about a camp from their website. If they make a video that moves you, they're probably pretty good at pulling the emotional strings of a 9-year old child. Or if the video makes you feel like this is a fun place, it probably is.
5. Get ratios. Sounds mathematical, right? But it's not. How many counselors will be in a bunk and how many kids?
6. Where are the counselors from? Think about whether these people will relate to your child.
7. Visit the camp. I'd recommend only going to places that you already feel comfortable with. If your child falls madly in love with a camp, but you don't think it's safe, you are going to have a problem.
8. Check out the camp bunks. What kind of stuff do the bunks have? If you have a kid that's into sports, you'll want to see baseball posters and hockey equipment. Conversely, if you have a child that's more into nature, you won't want every bed to be made up with Yankees blankets.
9. Ask your child. Ultimately, he or she will be the one going, so they do need to feel comfortable.
10. Trust your instincts. Generally, parents have a good sense of what will work for their child, but you never know....The bottom line is you have to be lucky. It's all about who ends up in your child's bunk and if they make friends. Good luck!
Check out our website, www.thecampinsider.com for detailed descriptions of camps.
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