Choosing a summer camp for your child

With eight million children packing their duffle bags and heading for one of America's more than 10,000 camps each summer, parents need to know how to choose the right camp for their children. The premier issue of Friendly Exchange Magazine outlines the criteria parents should apply when selecting a camp and defines camping terms to assist parents in their research.

One helpful measuring rod for parents choosing the right camp, according to the article, is accreditation. Accreditation is based on established standards for site, administration, personnel, and programs. These standards are intended to guard the health of campers, enforce safety procedures, a pleasant environment and a challenging program.

Another consideration of the ACA is staff. The article suggests counselors should be a minimum of 18 or 19 years old. For campers seven and eight years old, the American Camping Association (ACA) recommends a minimum of one counselor for every six children; for campers between nine and 14 years of age, one counselor for every eight children; and, for older children, a ratio of one for every 10.

For sports camps, the parent should make sure the instructors are coaches, not just players, because players often don't know how to teach.

Other steps a parent can take before choosing a camp are:

Visit the campground, if possible, and speak with the director regarding his or her background and philosophy.

Find out about the program in detail: what a typical day is like, the time spent on various activities, what the menus consist of, whether any activities cost extra, and whether cam pers can choose their own activities.

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