How To Choose A Summer Camp For Your Child

Helpful Hints To Make Life Easier ❤️ From Santa Monica Macaroni Kid

By Chanin Victor March 5, 2019

We don't want to make you nervous, but the most common months for Summer Camp sign up are going on right now! So if you haven't begun your selection process, you may want to start soon, and spaces fill up quick! Use our Summer Camp Guide to explore options in our area.

1) Decide between Day Camp or Overnight

Overnight camps provide a summer residential program where campers enjoy daily and evening activities. Depending on what you choose, camp can last from one week to an entire summer.

Things to consider:

  • What is night time security like?
  • How many kids and counselors to a cabin?
  • What are the total costs of sleep away camp?
  • Is your child ready for a sleep-away experience?

Practice having your child be away from you by sending them for a weekend at Grandma's or a friend's house. A child with nighttime fears is probably not ready for sleep away camp. Once you decide if your kiddo is a day camper or an overnight camper, you can begin choosing a summer camp that supports and highlights your child's interests.

2) Consider your child’s interests.

From art to theater to sports to computers to dance to gymnastics, there really is a camp for everyone. Ask your child, “What do you want to do this summer?” Ask yourself and people who are close to your child, “What do you think he/she would like?” or “What would be good for them?" Know your child. If your son loves horses and the outdoors, spending five days in a computer camp might not be a good fit. However, if you have seen your daughter's or son's artistic side and would like to be able to explore it further, add an art camp to your short-list.

3) Take a close look at your budget.

Camp costs can vary dramatically. Day camps are typically less expensive than residential camps. Once you’ve determined your budget, involve your child in the selection process. For younger kids, give them a few camp options and let them know that they can pick two. For an older child, tell them the monetary amount and that it is their choice to go to one expensive camp or three less expensive camps. For tips on Summer Camp finances, check out our article, Paying for Summer Camp.

4) Ask Questions.

You have narrowed the camps down based on your child’s age, their interests, and your budget. Now, ask questions! Ask the camps, your neighbors, your friends, and other trusted outlets. Below are a few questions to guide you.

  • How is the staff hired, screened, and trained?
  • What is the camper to counselor ratio?
  • When are campers supervised?
  • Do you provide snacks and lunch (day camp)?
  • What are the pick-up and drop-off policies?
  • What is the age range of children attending camp?
  • What if my child really dislikes it? Is there a refund policy?
  • What is your return rate?
  • What is a sample daily schedule?
  • How do you handle conflict between campers?
  • How do you handle separation anxiety?
  • Do you have an open house?
  • What should my child bring to camp (sunscreen, hat, swimsuit, money, etc.)?

5) Sign up!

Camps fill up fast. Many offer early bird specials and coupons. Call them or check their website to find out if they have deals.

There are a wide variety of camps to choose from including, but not limited to, Sports & Fitness, Academic, Swimming and Outdoor Adventure. There are even specialized camps, such as for those with disabilities or special needs. Some day camps offer the opportunity to try everything from art and music to science. You should have no problem selecting a camp that matches your child's needs, interests and personality. Coding and computers? STEM? Tennis? There is a camp out there that is right for your child. Use our Summer Camp Guide to learn about some wonderful camps in the area!