Right now, summer seems far away. After all, there are three seasons to go - including winter for most North Americans. But for a typical family with kids, it’s actually the right time to do summer planning, particularly if the kids will be going to camp. Whether it’s making countless phone calls, sitting online for hours, or simply waiting in a registration line, getting things organized for camp can be a challenge. The answer, of course, is to start early and do all of the right homework.
These days, getting an early start on camp registration is smart thinking, but quite necessary. It takes time to identify which camp and which program is most suitable, and like anything, there is some shopping around to do. The fact is, better camps start to fill up early, especially with happy campers from previous years. And in many cases, early applications may qualify for discounts. In a family where more than one child is attending camp, the savings could really be significant.
Beyond searching on the Internet, a personal phone call to the camp, and even the camp director, is quite appropriate. Actually, good camps will insist on this type of one-on-one communication in an effort to get to know the parents, while relating the qualities and values of the camp. Open communication can also address any special needs that a child might have. And finally, it’s critical to have a good match - children that love athletics and sports won’t relate well to performing arts.
Clearly, a summer camp that has been operating for decades, with the same management, and with many of the same staff, tells a lot about the camp. Simply put, a poorly managed camp just couldn't stay in business for the long term. Another good sign is staff that’s highly trained. This is particularly important for a camp that specializes in a specific stream, like sports, or education, or arts. Also important is to question the camper-to-staff ratio – obviously, the lower the better.
Camp philosophy is integral when researching a camp. Naturally, there has to be a good fit for the camper, but it also has to be a good fit for the. The camp experience will shape a child for years to come, so it’s vital for principles and beliefs to correspond mutually. Good camp staff will articulate the so-called “mission statement” of the camp to ensure the best fit for the camper. And this fit should not be undervalued, since a months-long overnight camp is a serious commitment.
Not to forget, an early start on camp planning will also benefit the kids. For some, it’s certainly an opportunity to slowly lessen the fears of overnight camp. For others, it’s really something to look forward to. And for the parents doing the planning, it’s another item to strike off the “to do” list.
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