Whether it involves creating lifelong relationships with other theater lovers, splashing in the lake with new camp friends, or learning new skills in a different environment, a summer camp experience is often a cherished part of childhood.
However, for parents, this experience comes with an essential question: “How to select a summer camp that your children will love and help them grow”. That's why we've put this blog together so you can learn how to find a summer camp that's perfect for your kids.
Why Summer Camps Are a Good Idea
Summer camps can have many advantages for children, from socializing to learning new skills, exposing them to new experiences, making new friends, and allowing them to connect with nature. They can also be an excellent way for kids to gain self-confidence and self-reliance and to benefit from educational programs and life lessons.
To ensure the camp is right for your child, it is essential to research different camps and discuss them with them, considering their age, interests, and personality, as well as the camp's procedures to guarantee safety and well-being.
How to Choose a Summer Camp for Your Child
By also considering budget and availability, you can find the right camp for your kids. Below are 9 tips for choosing a summer camp:
#1. Make a List of Your Child's Goals
Each child is different: what may seem like a dream come true for one could be a nightmare for another. Considering the kids' ages and perspectives is essential if you want them to enjoy their camp experience.
When choosing a summer camp, ask your kid what they want to do. For example, would they enjoy an active summer camp where they can burn some energy while playing with friends, or would they prefer fun STEM-based activities? As a parent, you likely know their answer, but they may surprise you!
You are the best judge of your child's character, but summer camp is a unique opportunity to grow and get out of their comfort zone. When preparing your child for summer camp, work with them on a list of goals and objectives they have for themselves and suggest some things they could work on.
#2. Consider Your Child's Personality
Choosing a summer camp with many fun activities is the perfect opportunity to try new things and discover a new passion.
This is what you can look forward to with today's top summer camp types:
- Traditional: Both co-ed and single-sex camps foster self-assurance and moral standards in an old-fashioned outdoor environment;
- Athletic: Athletic camps are perfect for those who love sports and want to gain new abilities during the summer;
- Academic: Attending an academic camp is a great way of combining fun and learning. They typically focus on math, writing, theater, and computer-related studies;
- Art: Attending art camps allows children to discover their creativity in a collective environment away from school;
- Adventure: These camps provide an exciting atmosphere featuring an expedition or exploratory element;
- Special Needs: These camps create a summer camp environment for students who, due to physical, mental, or emotional challenges, might not have the option to attend typical summer camps or activities.
#3. Figure out What Type of Camp Is Right for Your Kid
Once you've decided on what type of camp your kid likes, you'll want to consider the camp's duration, such as a no-school day camp or a day vs. overnight camp. Below are some different types of camps in America:
- Day Camp: These camps can usually be found at your child's school or through the city's recreation department. Day camps typically run during regular work hours and may provide extended care options;
- Resident / Overnight camp: A type of summer camp where your kids are away from home, staying in a lodge, and participating in activities at a mountain or other exciting location with meals included;
- Whole Summer Programs: Campers stay with the same program or organization throughout the summer;
- Camps by Session: Organizations offer varying lengths, ranging from one week to just 1-2 days. These camps are perfect for kids with a variety of interests;
- Virtual Camps: A virtual camp is a type of camp that takes place entirely online. It usually consists of educational talks, workshops, and discussions.
Get Ready for Summer with Hot Ground Gym Camps
Summer is just around the corner, and Hot Ground Gym is the perfect place to get ready. Our camps offer a variety of activities that will help your child stay active and have fun. Contact us today!
#4. Do Your Research
Researching your child's day camp is vital to ensure they will have a safe and enjoyable experience that meets their summer camp goals and objectives. Ensure the camp is reputable and meets the standards of safety and quality that you expect.
- Staffing Qualifications: Does the camp employ professionals or teenagers to staff the program? While teenagers can bring a lively atmosphere to the camp, the program must be designed and overseen by education and child development experts;
- Child Health & Safety: Investigate the camp's licenses and certifications. The American Camp Association is the foremost source of information on youth camp experiences. Determine if the camp can meet the needs of children with special needs, dietary requirements, and allergies. Confirm if the staff is certified in CPR and First Aid, and ask about the camp's emergency procedures.
#5. Be Aware of the Costs
Parents should be aware of the potential costs associated with summer camp, as these can add up quickly, particularly if you have multiple children or need coverage for the entire summer. It is essential to consider what is included in the fee and if there are any extra expenses for housing, transportation, meals, or specific activities.
However, if you cannot afford the cost of a camp program, there may be other solutions. Flexible spending accounts and tax write-offs may apply to day camps, and most sleep-away camps offer scholarship programs. Additionally, alumni status may qualify you for special financial aid, and there are outside foundations, such as the Cheley Foundation, which provide camp scholarships.
#6. Choose a Camp with Varied Activities
Children get bored quickly. Therefore, if you are wondering how to select a summer day camp that can keep your kid entertained and looking forward to returning the next day, choose one that offers a wide range of activities and weekly themes that stimulate their bodies and minds.
Being around new camp friends can also give them the confidence to try something new that they are just discovering or that they have wanted to try for a long time but haven’t had the opportunity to do yet. With classes ranging from obstacle courses to leadership development, Hot Ground Gym offers amazing team-building activities for kids.
#7. Choose a Convenient Camp Location
Although sleep-away camps are a unique experience, most summer camps are day camps, where campers get home every evening. You may have worked out a routine to include school drop-off and pick-up during the school year, but accommodating the camp schedule can throw a wrench in your plans.
Depending on your situation - especially if you are a working parent - location factors weigh heavily when figuring out how to find a good summer camp. With locations in both Libertyville and Arlington Heights, Hot Ground Gym provides summer camp activities for kids near you.
Hot Ground Gym Camps: The Best Way to Spend Your Summer
Hot Ground Gym camps are the perfect way to spend summer. With our experienced instructors and variety of activities, your child will have the time of their life. Register today and start having fun!
#8. Find Good Instructors
Look for first-hand accounts of the instructors by reading student and parent reviews, or even call the camps and ask if they provide parent references so that you can talk to other parents about their experiences.
Additionally, search for low student-to-instructor ratios (no more than ten campers per teacher, which goes for learning in-person or online), and be sure your camp runs background checks on all instructors and professional coaches. Safety first!
#9. Contact or Visit the Camps on Your Shortlist
Taking a look in person is worth the effort, as you're investing a lot of money in your child's camp experience. If you visit, bring your child along so they can get a feel for the place.
When you tour, observe if the camp appears orderly and up-to-date. If an in-person visit is not possible, you should call the camp director and ask them questions. To get an idea of the camp, ask about developmental levels for activities, how the camp deals with bullying, and what is offered for older kids. Ultimately, go with your gut feeling.
Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Day Camp
Lastly, when picking a summer camp, be sure to ask:
- Does the state license you, or do you hold an accreditation or certification?
- What training do counselors and staff have?
- What is the counselor-to-camper ratio?
- What kind of medical response is on hand?
- How often will the campers take field trips? Where do they go?
- What other amenities and outdoor activities are available to campers, such as a pool, ice arena, farm, hiking trails, ropes course, archery, etc.?
- Are lunches and/or snacks provided?
- Do you offer before- and after-care?
- What alternative plans do you have for inclement weather?
- What does the camp fee cover? What extra fees will I be required to pay?
- Do you offer scholarships or financial aid?
- What is the refund policy and rule regarding the transfer of weeks?
- What is your policy regarding cell phones and other technology items brought to camp?
- How do you handle homesickness and other adjustment issues?
- What is the discipline policy?
- How do you handle bullying?
- What are your drop-off and pick-up policies?
- Will you provide references?
Always consider your child’s personality and tastes when picking a summer camp. The right summer camp should engage their body and mind with enough camp activities to keep them entertained. Finally, parents must consider logistics, such as location factors, summer camp costs, and health and safety standards. Contact us today to learn more about our fun summer camp opportunities in northern Chicagoland.
Join Hot Ground Gym in Illinois
Meet supportive friends and reach new heights at Hot Ground Gym in Illinois! Visit us.