Checklist for Choosing a Summer Camp

Choosing a summer camp for your child can be a daunting task. There are many things to consider and a myriad of camp options to choose from. However, with some careful, advanced preparation, you can ensure that you choose the best camp for your child so that they have a positive experience.

The Alberta Camping Association is a provincial association dedicated to the betterment of organized camping in our province. The Association has a number of resources that can be accessed by parents and families to make the camp decision an easier one. Get to know the ACA by visiting the website at www.albertacamping.com and checking out the tools and tips available. Read about the accredited camp program and ACA guidelines for all areas of camp operations.

Once you know a bit more about the camping world in Alberta, follow these tips to a great camp choice:

  • Spend some time talking to your child about what they are looking for in a camp experience, what their goals are, and why they are interested in camp. 
  • Consider what your priorities as a family are. Are you looking for a day or overnight camp? What types of activities are important to you and your child? What type of goals, mission or ideals do you hope the camp will impart on your child? 
  • Based on these interests, goals and priorities, browse the Calgary’s Child Magazine Camp Guide and member directory on the ACA website and narrow your list of possible camps down.

Next, contact the offices of each of the camps you are interested in – ask about session lengths, starting dates, availability, and fees.
Speak to the camp director or a member of the senior/management staff and ask them questions such as:

  • What is your background in camping?
  • What is your camp’s philosophy?
  • What is the ratio of campers to staff?
  • How old are the counselors/group leaders?
  • What percentage of your campers return each year?
  • What provisions are made for campers with special needs?
  • How will my child get to and from your camp?
  • Is your camp accredited with the ACA?

Ask the camp to send you literature, brochures or program outlines. Make sure you have the application forms and that the registration and cancellation procedures are clearly defined. Ask if the camp has a website. Review the literature and website. Look for information on the following:

- Health & Safety Procedures and Personnel
- Accident & Emergency Procedures
- Staff & Camp Director Qualifications and Experience
- Facilities & Equipment
- Supervision
- Camp Fees and Extra Charges
- Role and Expectation of Parents
- Accreditation Status
- Program and Activity Options

If you need more information or have additional questions, contact the camp. Arrange for a tour of the site and facilities. Ask to meet the camp director and senior staff.Check references. Reputable camps can put you in touch with families who have children participating in the camp programs. Contact the references and discuss the program, facilities, and staff. Armed with all this information, revisit your family’s priorities and your child’s goals. The best choice should become obvious!

Once you have registered for the camp of your choice, you should have regular and ongoing contact. You should receive a warm welcome or confirmation package that includes dates, prices, equipment and clothing needed, cancellation policies and other pre- and post-camp information.Enjoy the camp selection process and the camping season!

Sara is the Past President of the Alberta Camping Association, for more information visit www.albertacamping.com.

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