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Here's Help to Make Your Child a Happy Camper!by Joan Bramsch
Now's the time to begin your search for a good camp. But first, you'll want to decide if your child is truly cut out to be a camper.
S/he should be at least 8 years old and should have completed 3rd Grade. If you suspect your child might be unhappy away from home for several nights, try having her/him sleep over at a relative or good friend's home. Ease into it: one night, two, three, etc.
Unless you test your child's Homesick-o-meter beforehand s/he may insist on coming home early from camp, causing her/him to feel like a failure.
Parents have also been known to be disappointed in their child's inability to "survive" out in the world. Eight years old and a failure? It happens; you probably know parents like these.
So be kind to your kid and to yourself. Try it out near home first. Perhaps, your child would be more content at a day camp. Either way, you'll need information to make a good decision.
You can learn about camps through word of mouth. In larger cities, there are gatherings called Camp Fairs, where all sorts of camping organizations come together to convince you that each is the answer to your prayer! ;)
Here are some topics to cover when discussing camps for your child:
1. Will you choose a one-sex camp or co-ed?
Note: many parents like the boys' and girls' camps separate but close enough to do some joint activities.
2. Try to meet the director face-to-face. S/he's even more important to know than your child's school teacher because your child will not be coming home at night. Otherwise, have at least two phone conversations and ask a trusted second party to share the call.
3. Check Accreditation: The American Camping Association (ACA) checks out _everything_ at member camps once every three years; more, if there's been complaints. But lots of good camps don't care to pay the annual fees ranging from $250 to $1200, depending on size. If this is the case, ask instead to speak to three parents whose child has attended within the last three years.
4. Counselors: Find out the age range and the ratio.
a. You don't want only 'teens taking care of your child.
b. The ACA recommends a ratio of 1:8 for ages 9 through 14, and more staff for younger children.
NOTE: Ask for a copy of the materials used to train the counselors. These will tell you a great deal. Also, ask how long the training period? One week is much better than only three days. If less, mark that camp off yourlist.
5. Will your child go to a regular camp or to a specialized camp?
You probably already know there are as many different camps as there are interests. Nevertheless, it's still a good idea to choose a camp that provides some choices, away from the specialization if you should choose this type.
6. Spending Money: Make sure the camp's regulations about spending money for whatever agrees with your own philosophy.
7. Medical Facilities:
a. Is there medical staff in-house?
b. How far away is Emergency facilities?
c. How will they get your child to the hospital if necessary?
d. How will they notify you in case of a medical emergency?
e. Will the camp accept your medical insurance?
8. References: Don't make your decision before you talk to at least three parents. It would be excellent if the camp provided a list of one dozen names from which to choose.
9. Cost: Good camps are expensive. Sleep away camps cost more than day camps. Private cost more than the Y, Scouts or religious organizations. ACA suggests a range of $75 to $125 per day for private camps, and between $25 and $100 a day for non-profit sponsored camps.
10. SAVE $$$$$$s...
a. Camps often offer scholarships. ASK!
b. Choose a shorter session.
c. Sometimes two children from the same family costs less per child.
d. Many camps have a sliding scale tuition. ASK!
e. It never hurts to negotiate a deal. Perhaps you can barter your special services in exchange for all or part of your child's tuition. ASK!
Here's to a happy camping experience!
Here's an excellent summer camp resource for everyone
Camp Director, Camper, Parent, Staff...Bunk1 has something for you! List your camp, purchase supplies, post job openings, see photos - even send personalized care packages to your little camper. There is definitely something for everyone at Bunk 1.
Click the link now to see all the options.
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