How to Find the Right Camp for Your Child

Gelena Blishteyn
Written by
for Camps USA
How to Find the Right Camp for Your Child

Thousands of summer camps exist in the United States; with hundreds of specialties and variations that are geared towards making a child's camp experience memorable, it can often be difficult to find a camp that is the right fit for a child. According to the American Camp Association, the number of camps continues to grow at a steady rate, with 12,000 summer camps that are currently accredited by the association. In order to properly choose the right camp for your child, it is essential that you have knowledge of the different types of camps that are available. This article will discuss the many variations of summer camps and the benefit that each can possibly offer to a child.


Types of Camps

When deciding on a camp, it is imperative that you take multiple factors into account. Nonprofit organizations such as religious institutions and agencies for American youth operate an estimated 8,000 summer camps for children, while 4,000 camps across the United States are independent businesses that tend to be focused on profit as well as a wholesome amount of fun. Mission-driven camps are often focused on a goal that is often related to religion, morals or a form of life progression. Family-run camps, on the other hand, are typically more focused on simple fun and healthy socialization for the child; they often have a much more tight-knit staff and are smaller in size. The size of a camp is important to take into account as well; smaller camps can foster a more pronounced sense of community, whereas large camps are often more organized but tend to be crowded with kids.

The size and focus of a camp are only a few of the facets that comprise a summer camp's ability to give your child an enjoyable experience; when choosing a camp, the issue of coed camps versus those that only allow one gender can often arise. Coed camps can help a child become comfortable with socializing with both male and female children, while camps that are exclusively for girls or boys can often have a better variation of gender-oriented activities. Another choice to take into account while choosing a summer camp for your child is its religious affiliation; if you are an Atheist, you may appreciate a camp that does not lean towards Christian doctrine. If the religious affiliation of a camp is an issue for you, there are several to choose from that affiliate themselves with many variations of religious beliefs.

The Camp's Typical Activities

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The activities that children are able to participate in are important to remember; if a child is deathly afraid of swimming, it may not be prudent to choose a camp that has a multitude of activities that involve being in the water. Even if a child is able to opt out of these activities if he or she chooses to, it can often be distressing and lonely to do so. According to the American Camp Association, 88 percent of its accredited camps offer swimming, while 48 percent offer horseback riding, and 21 percent of these offer community service opportunities. Some camps offer more specialized activities that are geared towards more specific interests, such as robotics, art, writing and exercise. The options are endless for even the most selective of children.

Length of Camp Sessions

If a child has other obligations to attend to during his or her summer vacation, it would be wise to choose a camp that does not fill up his or her entire summer. The majority of summer camps across the United States offer a variety of length options; some will allow the child to stay for the entire summer, and may still offer month-long options. The most common session lengths for summer camps are two-week sessions, four-week sessions, and eight-week sessions. It is important to discuss this issue with your child.

The Price Aspect

Even incredibly wealthy parents are often concerned about the price of summer camp for their children. There is a vast price range for summer camps; day camps that are accredited by the American Camp Association usually charge a weekly fee ranging from $75 to $300, whereas the accredited resident camps have slightly higher prices that can be as expensive as $400 per week. An important rule to keep in mind is that nonprofit camps are often vastly cheaper than camps that are run as businesses; they also typically have more scholarships available for children who are at a financial disadvantage. According to Jeff Solomon, the executive director of the National Camp Association, a month-long session at a private generic summer camp can cost up to $3,500, whereas a camp run by a nonprofit organization such as the YMCA is almost half the price. Keeping the cost in mind while choosing a camp is the most realistic thing that you can do for your family.

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