How to Choose the Best Summer Camp
With summer approaching, parents look ahead with eagerness to select just the right summer camp and summer activities for their kids. With so many options available, how do parents decide what will give their kids the best summer camp experience?
Camp Olympia believes in the positive impact a residential camp has on children. After all, summer camp is a key part of a well-rounded education as children learn responsibility and cooperation while gaining independence and self-esteem.
At Camp Olympia, we believe the key to choosing a summer camp is not to focus solely on the fun-factor (which is important), but to dig deeper to learn how staff members are hired and trained, about the camp’s safety record and camp accreditation standards, and an experience overview of the camp’s leadership team. You should also feel welcome to tour the camp and/or visit with staff members at a local camp event, prior to the summer.
Staff Hiring and Training
Each camp has its own procedures and standards, which are not all equal, for hiring and training staff members – from camp counselors to the camp nurse. That is why it is very important to evaluate the camp’s hiring and training process.
Here are the top 5 things to think about when evaluating the camp’s hiring and training process.
- How does the camp recruit their camp counselors?
- Does the hiring process include interviews, background checks and reference checks?
- Does the camp provide real-life situational training such as an onsite counselor training clinic, in addition to the camp’s policy and procedures manual?
- What is the ratio of staff members to campers?
- What type of alcohol policy is in place for the staff members?
Keep in mind that the camp’s staff will be taking care of your children, while at camp. You should be invited to ask questions, so you are comfortable with who will be interacting with your children, during summer camp.
Safety Record and Accreditation Standards
In order for camps to obtain their yearly operating license, they must meet safety standards set by the state, in Camp Olympia’s case, this is the State of Texas. Many camps find it sufficient to meet state requirements only. Other camps choose to go above and beyond state requirements and voluntarily obtain accreditation through the American Camp Association (ACA). In order to become an ACA accredited camp, the camp must meet up to 300 health and safety standards. ACA Accreditation is one of the best guarantees of professionalism in camping, and it lets you know that the camp has taken the time to insure their program and site meets the strictest codes of safety and excellence for your kids.
Camp Directors are the heartbeat of any camp, so you should become familiar with their camp leadership background and experience. So, ask:
- What type of experiences do the Camp Directors have in camping?
- What type of experience and training do the Camp Directors have in working with children?
- What turnover of leadership has the camp experienced?
Often times a more experienced leadership staff translates into a better summer camp experience.
Visit the Camp
Due to distance, not everyone has an opportunity to tour camp facilities, however try to schedule a tour or receive an online tour of the facilities, prior to registration. If distance does not allow for an onsite tour of the camp, ask when the photos and video of the camp facilities were taken to ensure that it properly reflects the facilities. Touring the camp allows you and your child to familiarize yourself with where your child will be sleeping, the various activity areas, and an overall layout of the land. Plus, it will allow you to meet staff members and get answers to any questions you may have.
Check out www.campolympia.com to learn more about why Camp Olympia is the premier overnight Texas summer camps for boys and girls ages 6 to 16!