Is it one you’re comfortable with as a parent? Is it a good match for your child’s temperament? Is competition or cooperation emphasized? If it’s a camp run by a religious organization, what religious observances or practices are part of the program? Is there structured play or are the children allowed to choose their activities?
2. How does the camp recruit, screen and train its staff?
Who interviews the staff and what are the criteria for staff members? How are they screened? Do counselors have criminal background checks? First aid training? How old are the couselors?
3. What are the return rates?
A high percentage of return indicates happy campers. How many campers return? Fifty percent is good, and more is better. How many counselors are returning this year? The ACA says at most camps, 40-60 percent of the staff returns. If the number you’re given is lower, ask why.
4. What’s the ratio of counselors to campers?
This ratio indicates the overall level of supervision your camper will receive on a daily basis while at camp. It is important to find out if the camp meets or exceeds the American Camp Association (ACA) standards. At resident camps, the ACA expects one staff member for every 6 campers ages 7 and 8; one staff for every 8 campers ages 9-14; and one for every 10 campers ages 15-17.
5. Is the camp accredited?
The American Camp Association (ACA) is a national association that evaluates camps based on 300 different health, safety, and program criteria. The ACA examines the living accommodations, food service, emergency preparedness, program practices, health care, personnel, transportation, and administrative procedures of each camp that seeks accreditation. If the camp is not accredited, be sure to ask why—though unaccredited camps are not necessarily bad camps.
6. What measures does the camp take to ensure the safety of the campers?
Safety should be of paramount importance at any camp. The director’s answer to this question should provide you with confidence that the camp is well equipped (on-site) or has a strategy in place to ensure quick and competent emergency response and everyday wellness treatment. You should also inquire about the camp’s safety procedures, risk-management standards (buddy systems, cabin checks, curfews), and the guidelines set for campers (boundaries, water safety, etc.).
7. What does a typical daily schedule look like?
This will help you decide if your child will be happy with the level of physical activity or the amount of time devoted to arts and crafts. Ask how much freedom a child has to choose activities.