10 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Summer Camp

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Theater camps, volleyball camps, sleepaway camps—the list goes on. It's the season to select a summer camp, and these days parents can find themselves swimming in options. Or just swimming, if that's what your kids enjoy doing. But once you've narrowed your options, the real work begins to select a safe, reliable and qualified environment for your child.

Here are 10 questions to consider when evaluating the best program for you and your family.

1. Is the camp accredited by the American Camping Association (ACA)?

This is especially important for those looking at overnight camps. To earn accreditation, a camp must comply with up to 300 industry standards for health, safety and program quality. Every three years, the ACA visits the camp to verify compliance. Many day camps do not go through the same accreditation process.

2. How many years has the camp been running? Are there a lot of return campers?

This is a reliable indicator of the happiness of past campers. For instance, if your town recreation department has been hosting its annual soccer camp for 10 years, chances are that parents and kids alike feel it's a good offering.

3. What is the staff to camper ratio?

The lower the number of campers to staff, the greater the amount of supervision per camper. Generally, the ratio is lower for younger children. This is something to consider for any camp.

Here are the ACA recommendations for resident camps:

  • One staffer for every six campers ages 6 to 8.
  • One staffer for every eight campers ages 9 to 14.
  • One staffer for every 10 campers ages 15 to 18.

For day campers, the recommendations are:

  • One staffer for every eight campers ages 6 to 8.
  • One staffer for every 10 campers ages 9 to 14.
  • One staffer for every 12 campers ages 15 to 18.

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