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How to find the right summer camp for your kids

Are you considering sending your kids to summer camp for the first time? Camp can be a wonderful experience for children, but you need to do your research and choose the right camp.

Girls at summer camp

Step 1: Think about why you are sending them

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.

Read about the top summer camps in the U.S. >>

Step 2: Decide if you want overnight or day camp

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.

Step 3: Talk to your friends

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.

Read our summer camp visiting day primer >>

Step 4: Narrow down your choices

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.

Step 5: Do sufficient research

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.

Step 6: Let your child be involved in the decision

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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