Are you considering overnight camp for your child?  While it’s great to hear about the camps your friends’ children go to, it’s important you do your own research when choosing your child’s future home.  The American Camp Association, NY and NJ suggests asking the Camp Director these ten questions to help you learn about the camp.  Based on the answers to these questions, you will have a better sense if you should ask further questions that are important to you or if you should move on to researching another camp. 

  1. What is the camp’s Mission/Philosophy? – Each camp has its own mission or philosophy.  It’s important to ask what it is and to make sure what the Camp Director is describing matches your own family’s values. 

  2. What is the camp director’s background and experience? – Find out about the camp director’s experience as a director, years at the camp and what their background is.  You also want to make sure you click with the director.  When you send your child to camp, you are forming a partnership with the director so it’s imperative that you feel like you can partner with them to ensure your child has a successful camp experience. 

  3. What type of child is successful at the camp? – Ask the director what type of child is successful at the camp.  Does it sound like they are describing your child?  If not, move on. 

  4. What is the camp program? –   Find out if the program is structured or elective.  Structured camps have a set schedule for campers with electives increasing with a child’s age.  At Elective camps, children choose what activities to participate in.   Make sure to ask what the program looks like as a child gets older, not just the age they are at now. 

  5. What are the camp’s safety procedures? – Inquire about some key safety procedures a camp should have in place including emergency action plans, water safety, medical staff and camper to staff ratios.

  6. What is the staff composition, hiring process and training procedures? – It’s important to ask about who the staff is, what the hiring process is, how old the staff members are, what kind of staff training they go through and what the background check process is.

  7. Are you able to accommodate my child’s special consideration? – If your child has any special considerations such as food allergies or ADHD, you want to make sure you are completely upfront about your child’s needs.  You want to make sure the camp you are speaking with is able to accommodate your child’s needs.  

  8. What makes your camp unique? – Often times, parents will feel like all camps start to look alike once they start looking at websites and marketing materials.  Ask the camp director what it is about their camp that makes them unique. 

  9. How are camper conflicts handled? – While camps work hard to build a caring community, conflicts in the bunk or among campers can occur.  Ask the camp director how the camp handles any conflicts that may arise.

  10. May I speak with references? – Ask to speak with parents of campers currently enrolled at the camp. It’s often helpful to speak with a parent of a child your own child’s age. 

If you don’t know where to begin your camp search, call the American Camp Association, NY and NJ at 212.391.5208 for free, one-on-one advice in finding the right camp for your child.