First of all, you need to figure out what you want your child to get out of going to camp. Are you sending them so they can make new friends, build character, develop new skills or just have fun? By determining what you want out of camp, you'll be able to narrow down your choices.
For very young kids, day camp is probably your best bet. For older children, consider the option of sleepover camps, rather just sending your kids out of the house for the day. You can find a camps geared toward almost any type of interest -- from cooking to sports and science to foreign languages.
Network with other parents -- friends, relatives and co-workers -- to get recommendations on the best camps (and which to avoid). Ask if their kids would want to go back again, and if not, why not.
Once you've figured out if you want a specialty camp or a general camp, and a day camp or a sleepover camp, you should read very thoroughly the websites and brochures of the camps that piqued your interest. You can then narrow down your choices to five potential camps within your price range.
Check out the handful of camps through the American Camp Association website. More than 2,400 camps are accredited by the ACA to meet certain health, safety and quality standards. You can read all about the camp, including all the programs and sessions that each camp offers.
Once you have it whittled down to two or three suitable camps that you want to send your children, let your kids be involved in the final decision. After all, you want them to really enjoy their time at camp, so your children should be involved in the process.
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