10 things to look for when registering for summer camp in 2016

November 19, 2015

Nothing helps to get through the long, cold winter quite as well as planning for an exceptional summer to come, and for many, that means planning to send the kids off to summer camp.  Whether your child is a first time camper or a camping veteran, there are numerous factors to consider when enrolling your child in summer camp.  So before you fill out the registration forms, here are ten things to think about when choosing a 2016 Los Angeles summer camp:

As far as accommodations go, camps run the full gamut.  For kids looking for a rugged experience at camp, there are great camps that allow campers to rough it in tents or cabins with no electricity or plumbing.  For campers who are looking for a bit more luxury in their camp experience, there are numerous camp options that offer resort-quality accommodations with air conditioning, closet space, and indoor plumbing.  Your camper’s bunk will serve as their home while they are at camp, so it is important to think about where your camper will be the most comfortable and which camp offers the best home away from home for your child.

From wakeboarding to rock climbing, paintball to pottery making, you name it and camps have got it!  Camps these days have activities galore, and with each of these activities comes the opportunity for your camper to gain new skills, find a new hobby, or just relax and enjoy themselves.  Every camp offers great, and oftentimes highly unique activities, so be sure to find the camp that offers the activities that speak to your camper’s interests.  If your camper is highly interested in working on a specific skill or activity, a specialty camp might be a good fit for them.  Specialties can range from horse camps to space camps, or even NBA basketball camps. Camp activities are as diverse and unique as the very campers that attend camp, so be sure to find a camp that offers activities that appeal to your camper.

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The camp community is forever growing and expanding, which means you can find summer camps located in every corner of the United States.  With so many camps out there, there are likely several camps to choose from within a reasonable distance from where you live.  Even if a camp is a distance away, most camps offer transportation from some major cities, so look into transportation options that the camp offers in order to minimize travel burdens.  And although you might feel most comfortable with your kids at a camp that is fairly close by, keep in mind that most camps offer transportation to and from local airports, so the camp possibilities really are endless.  Along with location comes weather- summer weather varies from place to place so make sure to look up what kind of weather can be expected in the summer time in your camp’s region.  If the camp is in a particularly warm climate, are there water activities or air conditioning to keep campers cool?  If the camp is in a region that experiences frequent rain, how are activities modified to keep campers safe and dry?

Session Lengths
Looking for a camp that offers week long sessions?  Or is your camper interested in spending the whole summer away? Each camp’s session lengths vary, so make sure the camp you are interested in offers sessions that fit into your summer plans.  Nervous campers might opt for a shorter stay at camp while the more independent camper might prefer a camp that offers six or eight week programs.  Either way, don’t be surprised when your camper has such a great time at camp that they aren’t ready to come home at the end of their camp session!

Staff to Camper Ratios
Camp is a great place for campers to build independence and get a great taste of freedom, but the concern on every parent’s mind is safety. The amount of supervision provided varies from camp to camp- some camps allow campers to enjoy unsupervised time while other camps require constant direct supervision.  Ask about staff-to-camper ratios and the supervision provided to assure that the camp you select meets your comfort level.  Be sure to make note of the amount of supervision provided while campers engage in watersports, ropes courses, and other high risk activities.

You might be hungry for camp, but don’t take a bite until you consider one of the tastiest aspects of all camps: the food,  Food is a highly important part of day to day life, and meal times play an equally important role in the camp setting.  While away at camp, your camper will get to enjoy three delicious meals a day- but make sure the camp you choose has food options that appeal to your child. While most camps have lots of options, especially kid-friendly choices, each camp varies in how gourmet the cuisine is.  At some camps, kids assist in food prep, whereas other camps have chefs preparing meals that might remind you more of a five-star restaurant than a dining hall.  Investigate menus and food options on different camp websites to see what might be available for your camper to feast upon.  If your camper has any dietary concerns or food allergies, be sure to ask about special menus and how food is prepared to ensure your camper’s safety.

Medical Resources
When sending your kids away, you hope that they will never need to seek out medical attention, but kids will be kids and accidents do happen.  In case an illness or injury does arise, you will want to know how medical situations are handled and who cares for kids who run into medical problems.  Does the camp have a doctor or nurse on staff?  While most of the incidences a camp doctor or nurse deals with are very basic first aid (think removing splinters and applying Bandaids), you want to choose a camp that has an infirmary or medical center that you would feel comfortable with treating your child if something more serious comes up.  If your camper has any specific medical concerns or medications, be sure to look into the camp’s infirmary procedures.

The American Camp Association has done a lot of the leg work of your camp search for you through their accreditation process.  ACA is the supreme body of the camp world and they aim to insure that every camper is delivered the most fulfilling camping experience possible.  ACA accredited camps are held to high standards for health, safety, and overall program quality.  To start looking for the right ACA accredited camp for you, check out http://find.acacamps.org/,

Staff Hiring and Training
Camp counselors can make or break a camp experience, so knowing how the staff of a camp is hired and trained is important when choosing a camp.  Your child’s camp counselor will likely become their next role model and best friend, so you might want to look into where the counselors come from.  Camps often recruit counselors from local colleges or community organizations, and many camps also hire staff from around the world.  Knowing where counselors are coming from might help you prepare your camper for their camp experience.
Regardless of where a counselor comes from, all camp staffs typically go through a thorough  training process.  Staff trainings usually cover all the basic workings of the summer camp, but you might want to look into what else is covered during training.  Many camps train counselors in dealing with homesickness, bullying, and first aid to prepare staff members for the ups and downs of the summer.  Ask about what staff is trained in and how they are trained to get the best picture of what the counseling staff might be like.

You don’t need to break the bank to give your child an amazing summer- there are camps in nearly every pricing bracket.  A huge price tag doesn’t necessarily mean a better camp experience, so  think about what you are willing to spend before you start shopping around. Luckily, getting an early start on planning might work in your favor since many camps offer early enrollment discounts, so be on the lookout for special deals. Keep in mind that many camps offer scholarships or discounts, so even if you don’t think camp fits into your budget it still might be worth investigating.

Although summer is still a distant thought, it is never too early to start planning an unforgettable experience for your kids.  No matter what camp you choose, your child will get a chance to challenge themselves, develop independence, and make countless new friends. While finding the right camp might be an arduous process, seeing the smile on your child’s face when they return home from camp will make the time spent so worth it.

Be sure to check out local camp fairs or browse the internet to get more information about the many amazing and unique camps out there.  Contact any camps that interest you and see if they host any open houses or events in your area- these gatherings are a great place to get all of your questions answered and to meet a few staff members or other campers.

The right camp for your family is out there- time to kick the summer planning into gear and get ready for a great summer at camp!

If you have questions about finding the right camp for your camper or you are ready to register for a fantastic summer camp experience, contact Canyon Creek Summer Camp at (661) 724-9184.