Summer is a magical time for children in Oklahoma. School is out, the days are long and warm, and the temptation to spend time watching television and playing video games is great. Children don’t want to feel over-structured or stressed out during their break before school resumes again. A great compromise is sending them to summer camp. At summer camp, children can make friends, discover new interests, get plenty of exercise and playtime, all while staying mentally engaged in healthy activities.
While there is an abundance of camps available in Oklahoma, not all camps have qualified staff and an outstanding reputation for their facilities and programs. Here are some tips on how to select a camp that will add to the magic of your child’s summer.
Seven Steps to Select the Perfect Camp
1. Set High Expectations for Your Choice of Summer Camp
Your main question should be, “What will my child get from this experience?” You send your child to school to gain knowledge, to athletic programs to be better athletes. Camps should offer physical, intellectual, and morally enriching opportunities that will allow your child to continue to grow over the summer break.
Be sure to tailor your questions in regard to the age of your child. The programs should be tailored for specific age groups and cater to the needs of those ages. Older children should have the opportunity to engage in challenging and stimulating activities they feel are relevant and beneficial to them.
Find out if the summer program offers activities that cater to your child’s specific interests. Your child will be much more excited about attending a camp when there are opportunities to engage in their favorite activities and interests.
2. Narrow Down the Right Genre
Once you’ve decided on what you want to gain from your child’s summer camp, now it’s time to look at the types of programs that will best suit your child’s needs. There are various genres of camps such as traditional, academic, sports, special interest, and adventure. Find that camp that has the type of genre that suits your child’s interests.
3. Decide on Day or Overnight
Many camps offer the options of a variety of activities and opportunities to learn new skills and play sports without having to stay overnight. This is a good option for younger children who may not be comfortable with spending a prolonged period of time away from home.
Overnight camps can provide children with a sense of independence in a supervised setting. They are a good option for older children or children who are comfortable being away from home.
4. Consider the Experience and Setting of the Summer Camp
It’s comforting to know that the camp you are sending your child to has an excellent reputation and experience in running a camp. A camp will be more enjoyable for your child if the facilities offer features such as a lake or pool for water activities. It’s a huge bonus if they have sports fields and equipment for their athletic camps.
Camps that are involved with community memberships are more likely to have outstanding facilities. It will be a comfort to know that your child is part of a recognized community institution that caters to children and their family members.
5. Make Sure Your Kids Will Enjoy the Summer Camp Instructors
A program will only be as good as the adults who are instructing. Do your research on the qualifications of the camp instructors. Teachers should be engaging and be able to turn your child’s time at camp into a fun experience.
If you choose a sports program, the coaches should have experience in teaching those sports. This is a valuable opportunity over the summer months for your child to be introduced to a sport they may like to pursue or gain skills to help them exceed.
Regardless of what they are teaching, camp counselors should be passionate about teaching kids. The environment should be positive and upbeat and the instructors encouraging and knowledgeable about the topics they are teaching.
A good way to find out about the quality of instructors and coaches is to read the reviews by students and parents. You should be able to contact the camp and ask for references. Talk to other parents about their experiences at that camp and how the children liked or disliked the teachers.
Also, look for the ratio of instructors to students. Ideally, there should be no more than 10 campers per instructor. Camp is an excellent opportunity to offer training for older students to become camp counselors.
A camp that offers this service will be able to provide more hands to help with younger students. They are providing a valuable service to older children by giving them the opportunity to add training and experience to their resumes.
6. Decide on Your Budget for Summer Camp
Camp should be a fun and memorable summer experience for your child, but it shouldn’t break your budget. While camp is an investment in building your child’s self-confidence, learning new skills, and an opportunity to make new friends, there are many quality camps available that offer outstanding services for a reasonable price. Sports camps may be a bit more expensive than a traditional camp as there may be equipment and professional instructors involved.
Day camps often have more flexible schedules. Some provide the option for a full week or certain days during the week. This can help with those who have other activities scheduled during the summer or for those who can’t afford full-week tuition.
Lastly, find out what is included in the price of the camp. Are snacks and lunch provided? Are there services before and after camp for parents who need a flexible pick up or drop off?
7. Do Your Own Research
Don’t be afraid to dig into the information regarding your summer camp provider. Look for an organization that promotes good values, that places an importance on family, and has a history of providing a quality program for children.
One of the ways you can learn more about a camp that you and your child may have an interest in is by visiting that camp. Take a tour of the facilities and meet and talk to staff members. Read the customer reviews about the facility and make inquiries into their history.
If you live in the area of your choice of camp, chances are, there are families in your community who have sent their children to that camp. You can probably find a social media group and ask questions and get recommendations. A personal recommendation is the most comforting source and your child will be excited to attend camp with a neighbor or friend.
What Does A Day at Summer Camp Look Like?
In order for your child to get the most out of the camp experience, you should know in advance what a day at camp will look like. There should be a variety of activities offered with a mix of learning and playing. The most important aspect is that your child is engaged for the entire day. The learning should be kept fun and the activities should include the things he or she loves doing during the summer the months.
Also, find out about their travel policies if the children are transported off the property. If your camp has all the recreational facilities on campus, this is a good option as it takes the stress out of worrying about your child being bussed to another location.
Parents should be comfortable that their choice of camp has the same kind of values when it comes to rules and discipline. As with any camp you choose, your child should understand and be aware of the rules and values that camp adopts. They are more likely to have a positive experience knowing the expectations and rules for behavior.
Be aware of the camp’s policies regarding allergies and medical conditions. This is especially important for parents whose children need special considerations due to allergies or medical conditions such as asthma. There should always be staff members present who are trained in CPR and first aid.
Take the initiative to find out how camp communicates with the family. If there are any emergencies or situations that need to be addressed, you want to know how this will be handled. Make sure the camp you choose places a priority on communicating with your family.
When choosing the right camp for your child make sure you choose a camp that offers the type of program options that your child will enjoy the most. You want camp to be a positive and fun summer experience for your child. Decide together on the genre of camp that has a variety of activities, a qualified staff that brings fun and excitement into learning.
Do your homework and research the reputation of the summer camp as well as the staff. Know in advance who your child will be spending time with and that they have experience and a positive reputation for their facility.
Make sure your values align with the camp’s values. Advanced preparation will ensure that your child will look back on the camp as a treasured memory, a time when new friends were made, and was a magical summer memory.