Summer Camp Guide

How to Choose the Right Summer Camp

Summer is coming to the East End, and that means it’s time to start thinking about summer camps! But as each child is different, so is each camp experience. How do you make an informed decision when picking a summer camp for your child? What are the key factors to consider?

Summer camps build character, friendships and life skills. In an age where kids are far less likely to run across the street to play with the neighbor, they provide a way to enjoy life’s simpler pleasures outside of electronic devices. They also let Junior understand how to be independent, but in a structured environment. With so many great options on the East End, it’s important to choose a program that best fits your child’s needs.

Before you delve further into the specifics of each camp, consider some basic questions:

—Day camp or sleep away camp?

—How far do you want your child to travel for camp? How will he/she get there?

—What kind of activities does your child enjoy?

—Should the camp be coed or single sex? Does the size of the camp matter to you?

—Do you want the camp to focus on a specific theme? (arts, sports, music, etc.) or to be more all encompassing?

—Do you want the camp to draw from the region or a wider area?

—What are your kid’s friends doing? Do you want them to have familiar faces at camp or explore new experiences?

—How much are you willing to spend on camp?

—How much time do you want your child to spend at camp?

These questions will help you to narrow down your options to a select few camps. Then, it’s time to delve into the details. It’s always smart to talk to someone at the camp to help you make your decision and to really get a feel for the experience your child will have. Visit the camp, if you have a chance, or call and find out the answers to the questions below.

—What is a typical day like at the camp?

—How long has the camp been in business? While newer camps can certainly be contenders for summer fun, there’s also something to be said for a camp that has been able to stay in business for years, particularly if you’re able to find out the number of campers and counselors who opt to return season after season.

—What’s the counselor to camper ratio?

—How are kids divided at the camp? By age? Type of activity?

—What’s the overall mission of the camp?

—What activities or facilities are offered?

—How much choice does your child have in the activities he/she participates in while at camp? How structured are the days?

—Does the camp have insurance and security personnel?

—How are the staff selected and trained?

—What kind of health care is provided?

—What is the policy on phone calls and family visits? How often is the family given a chance to communicate?

—What’s each child required to bring to camp?

—Is transportation provided to/from camp?

—Do kids travel while at camp?

—How does each week vary?

There’s a fine line between convincing your child—and yourself!—that summer camp is the right option and forcing someone who isn’t ready to go. Take the time to do the research, make the decision together, listen to your gut instinct and, above all, get ready to have an unforgettable summer on the East End!

P.S. If you’re looking to get your too-old-to-go-to-camp college age kid out of the house, tell him/her to forward a resumé and two writing samples to for consideration for the Dan’s Papers editorial internship program!

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