Camp provides children with the opportunity to learn new activities, meet new friends, and learn life skills such as self esteem, leadership and confidence.  There are many different summer camps for families to choose from and each camp provides unique programming and approaches.   Parents should consider what type of program and camp environment will fit with their child’s interests and personality.  With so many different camp options, what is the best way for parents to find out what a camp is really like before registering their child for camp?

The American Camp Association, NY and NJ has some tips for parents to help them learn about a camp’s philosophy and character. 

Tour the Camp

A good way for parents and children to get a feel for a day or overnight camp is to tour the camp.  Scheduling a camp tour over the summer summer gives the future camper a chance to see camp in action.  A tour also gives you a chance to ask the camp director questions while you are in the camp environment.  If it’s not possible to tour the camp during the summer, schedule a tour in the off season so you can see the facilities and still get a feel for the camp environment. Camp tours give children the feeling that he or she is part of the process of choosing the camp and the more involved a child feels in the decision making, the more successful the camp experience will be.  

Rookie Days

There are many resident camps that offer Rookie Days which are designed to give future campers a chance to experience the camp in session by joining in on the camp activities before going to camp.  While children enjoy the camp activities, parents are taken on a tour of the camp.  Rookie days are wonderful ways for children and their parents to get a feel for what the camp is like and to determine if the camp is the right fit. 

Talk to the Camp Director

Parents want to make sure they click with the camp director.  Speaking with the camp director and asking some key questions is a good way for families to find out about a camp’s philosophy and if it matches their own.  Get to know the camp director through phone calls, correspondence and in person.  Often times, the camp director will come to your home or you can meet the camp director at a camp fair.  Ask the camp director about the camps’ mission statement and what type of child is successful at camp.  The more open families are with camp directors, the better informed they will be when it comes to making a decision. 

Look at website, video and brochures

Parents and campers should take time to look over a camp’s website, brochure and video.  They will give families a sense of what a particular camp is like. Most camp websites have photo slide shows, videos, virtual tours, and maps which will give parents and children a glimpse of the camp and the camp program.  Many camps also include a sample daily schedule so families can see what a typical day at camp is like.  Camps will also send you a DVD upon request so you and your child can view the camp and see campers and counselors engaged in camp activities.

 “When you are researching a camp, keep in mind that you are forming a partnership with the camp director.  While it is important for you to get to know a camp’s personality, it is also important for a camp director to know about your family,” said Renee Flax, Camper Placement Specialist Director at the American Camp Association, NY and NJ.  “Make sure to give the camp director an accurate picture of your child and what your specific goals are for your child’s camp experience. Tell him or her about your child’s strengths and weaknesses.  Knowing these things about your child will help the camp director determine if the camp is the right camp for your child and will also help with bunk placement.”

To find the right camp for your child, visit the American Camp Association, New York and New Jersey’s camp database and register for a free, customized list of camps that match your needs.  You can also call 212.391.5208 to speak with our Camper Placement Specialist for free, one-on-one advice in finding a summer camp. ACA-Accreditation is a parent’s best evidence of a camp’s commitment to health and safety and ensures that children are provided with a diversity of educational and developmentally challenging learning opportunities.