Community Magazine

When Choosing a Summer Day Camp for Kids 3-7

By Jean Campbell

It’s about that time again…when parents look for summer camps. For parents who are new to picking a camp, I would like to share what I know about providing a safe, enjoyable summer camp experience. I ran a community day camp for several years. In addition to knowing how your child will be spending his or her time at camp, the following list includes other things that you will want to consider when picking out a day camp.

  • Transportation Personnel -Who are they? What is their background?  Our camp policy was to have a staff person ride in each of the vehicles for the first two weeks of camp to insure that the drivers were responsible and that they had patience with the children. Given the age of the children, we expected the transportation company to provide an attendant to ride in each bus.
  • Water Personnel – Are swim instructors, life guards and counselors who accompany the children in water activities trained in water safety? Have they passed first aid training including resuscitation?
  • Group Leaders -Are they teachers, recreation personnel or other  mature adults with specialties in arts and crafts, music or other specialties such as cooking,  sports, dance?
  • Counselors - Are they trained in first aid including CPR? Do they have experience with young children?
  • Does the camp do a background check on all personnel?
  • Is their an orientation/training  for staff prior to the camp opening for the season? What is covered in this training?
  • Is there a day when families can visit and see what the children are doing? Can the view a play or a skit or a music/dance demonstration?
  • If children must bring their lunches, how are they kept cool? If the camp provides lunch and snacks, what do they provide?
  • Are play areas, toys, jungle gyms, etc clean and in good condition?
  • Is there a nurse on staff?
  • What is the policy when a child is injured or gets sick?
  • If the camp has outdoor space, is it fenced in?
  • Is the ration of staff to children 1 to 4 or 5?
  • Does the camp have a favorable listing with the American Camping Association or KidsCamps.com?

It is hard enough to send our little ones off on a camp bus for the first time. Parents need the peace of mind of knowing that the camp their child is going to is a safe, secure, clean place for summer fun.


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