Summer day camp is a necessity for many working moms who desire to keep their kids stimulated and active when school is closed. However, when it comes to choosing a summer day camp that suits all your needs, the prospects can be limited. Many summer day camps will only offer half day options or have limited weeks in which camp is in session.
For this reason, it's wise to search for a summer day camp several months in advance, and to investigate all your options. Follow this step-by-step plan to find the right summer day camp for your child.
Step 1: Scout Out Your Prospects January isn't too early in many cities and suburbs to start searching for a summer day camp. Search local websites, and look for newspaper and magazine advertisements for summer day camp listings. Inquire at your child's school, the local YMCA and other recreational facilities. In addition, ask other parents for recommendations. If your child is involved with a group or athletic team, such as girl scouts or a local soccer team, ask if those organizations host summer day camps.
Step 2: Go to Open Houses Most summer day camps will host open houses some time in the winter to showcase the facilities, and give parents a chance to speak with camp administrators and counselors.
Step 3: Ask for a Tour If the summer day camp you're interested in doesn't host an open house, call to schedule a private tour of the facility with a camp administrator. When viewing the facility, take notice of all safety precautions, such as gates around a swimming pool, locks on doors, fire alarms, etc. Examine the cleanliness of the faculty, as well as whether the set up is conducive to your child's needs.
Step 4: Interview Administrators In order to narrow down your summer day camp choices, take time to interview administrators and operators. Ask questions such as: What is your counselor to camper ratio? What are your hours of operation? What activities do children engage in on a daily basis? Is there a pool for summer day campers? If so, how many lifeguards are on duty at the same time? Is swim instruction given to campers? What happens if your child is sick for a week; can you get a refund for days missed?
Step 5: Narrow Down Your Choices Once you' ve visited a few summer day camps, choose your top two and weigh the pros and cons of each. To be sure you're evaluating every aspect of the summer day camp, including camp costs, write side-by-side "pro" and "con" columns on a piece of paper then decide which "cons" you can live with.
Step 6: Register Early Once you have chosen a summer day camp, inquire about the registration process. Many summer day camps accept a limited number of children. If it's a "first come first serve" approach to registration, be sure to sign up early. Some camps will offer a discount if you register early.
Step 7: Prepare Your Child At the end of the school year, it's wise to prepare your child for the summer day camp experience, especially if it's his or her first time at camp. Talk about the positives, including the activities he or she will enjoy, and the prospect of making new friends.