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Tips for Choosing a Summer Camp

separator When you’re choosing a camp for your kids for summer, here are some of the things you’ll want to find out about, according to the American Camping Association (ACA):

Investigate safety issues. This is probably the most important thing you can do. Drowning accounts for half of all deaths that occur in summer camp. Counselors who are in charge of water activities should have complete training in lifesaving techniques and access to rescue equipment. You should also find out how far away the camp is from medical facilities, and what the procedures are when there is an emergency. In general, make sure you feel secure in the knowledge that the camp is a safe place for your child..

Ask about the ratio of counselors to campers. At sleep away camps, for campers ages 6 to 8, the ratio should be one staff member for every six children. For kids 9 to 14, there should be one staff member for every eight campers. And for kids 15 to 17, there should be one staff member for every 10 kids. For day camps, the ratios are a little larger.

What are the ages of the counselors? The ACA recommends that 80 percent or more of the staff should be at least 18 years old. All counselors must be at least 16.

Ask about the food. Do campers drink milk every day? Are the menus balanced so that there’s the right mix of protein, whole grain, fruits and vegetables? Is the camp able to accommodate children who have allergies? How frequently do the campers get sugary drinks? Are snack foods limited to keep a healthy balance?

How does the camp handle behavior problems? Make sure the camp’s philosophy is in line with yours.

Get references. Camp Directors should be happy to provide you with these.

American Camping Association; New York Times, “Parents’ Rite of Passage: Shopping for a Camp,” 11 February 2003.
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