It's Not Too Early to Find a Summer Camp for Your Child

summer camp

You may still be submerged in the dark days of winter, but summer will arrive before you know it. Research by the American Camp Association shows that summer camps are filling up earlier and earlier each year. If you're planning to send your child to summer camp this year, now is the time to begin researching and identifying ones that may be a great fit. Below are some things to consider when searching for camps. Start your research today, and rest assured your child will snag a spot in the camp program that fits them best.

Find the camp that's best for your child.

When it comes to choosing a camp, there are many options. Does your child prefer a day camp or an overnight camp? Will they be most comfortable with a co-ed camp or a single gender camp? Will they thrive at a camp that focuses on the arts or STEM? Should you send them for a single week or all summer long? When you spend some time thinking about the best possible camp scenario for your child, you'll have a head start as you begin sorting through all of your options.

Include your child in the decision-making process.

Make sure to let your child weigh in on their camp preferences. Explore options and browse brochures or websites together. When children are more involved with the decision-making process and familiar with the camp they'll be attending over the summer, they will have less anxiety about heading away when the time comes.

Seek out camp recommendations.

Word of mouth recommendations are most often the best endorsements. Seek advice from relatives, friends, teachers or teammates to find out where they send their children to camp. A rave review will set your mind at ease and make the camp selection process easier.

Ask questions and visit the camp.

Camp directors are happy to answer questions from prospective families, and most camps are glad to set up camp tours or host open house days. When you do talk to camp representatives, ask about day-to-day life at camp, the camp director's background, the kind of training camp counselors receive and any other questions that may be important to your family.

Consider the size and location of camp.

Your east coast child may dream of a west coast camp adventure, but when the time comes, will they deal well with being so far away from home? Likewise, some kids will thrive at camps that host over 1,000 campers a summer while other kids do best in smaller, more intimate programs of less than 100 campers. Ask your child what works best for them, and ask all potential camps about the size of their programs.

Inquire about the early bird rate.

Another great reason to start researching summer camps now is that your effort can save you money. Many camps offer early bird rates for campers who are signed up before a certain date. As you explore potential camps, ask about varying rates and deadlines.

There are camps to meet every interest, schedule and price range, but if you're worried about the cost of camp, planning early will help your family budget camp expenses. Many camps offer scholarships and tuition reduction programs, which can reduce camp fees by 50 percent. When you begin your camp research early, your family will have time to apply for scholarships and/or tuition reduction. 

Early enrollment is a great motivator.

There's something to be said for knowing that a fun adventure is on the horizon, and early enrollment in summer camp is a great motivator for your child. Whether your son's enrollment in music camp encourages him to practice the violin all school year long, or your daughter's spot in sleepaway camp motivates her toward more independence, your children will have something to look forward to and work toward as they count down the days until summer.

READ THIS NEXT: Parent's Guide to Summer Camp

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