Planning Tips for Summer Youth Camp - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Planning Tips for Summer Youth Camp

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With the summer season not that far away, it is the time of the year to plan activities.  For some kids, it will soon mean packing up and heading out for camp.  News 13 has advice to remember in this Problem Solver report.

According to the American Camp Association, there are more than 12,000 day and resident camps across the nation.  Doing your homework, asking the right questions, can save you time and money.   

Some psychologists say camps can help kids develop coping strategies, like going on a hike, competitive sports and much more. Then, there are the challenges of learning how to get along with peers.

It may take some work finding the camp that is right for your child and your pocketbook.  Sometimes, things don't work out.  In fact, the Better Business Bureau says last year, it received 100 complaints against various camps across the nation.  The BBB says most of the complaints dealt with refund issues that led to unauthorized credit card charges.    So try to take as much guess work out of your search for a camp.  The Better Business Bureau offers resources to help in your task.

Keep these tips in mind:

  • Get references. Ask parents of other campers about their child's experience and why they recommend one camp over another. According to the American Camp Association, there is no government oversight of camps, so it's especially important to look for facilities that are certified by the ACA. The organization requires camps to meet up to 300 nationally recognized standards.
  • Visit the camp in person. Check all living, eating and recreational facilities. Be sure to ask about safety procedures and how rules are enforced.
  • Assess the quality and commitment of the staff. Find out the camp director's background, the criteria used for hiring staff and whether certification in CPA and first aid is required. It is also important to know the ratio of staff to campers. Parents sending children to specialty camps should inquire about the staff's level of expertise in the specialized area.
  • Know the fees and payment policies. What is the total cost of tuition? Is your money refundable should the camp be canceled? Are there extra charges for any activities? Are meals and transportation included? Make sure all these details are included in your contract.
  • Ask about medical care. Check out the medical facilities to be sure they are adequate. Find out if a nurse or doctor is on-site. Inquire about the procedures for transporting injured or sick children to nearby medical facilities and under what circumstances you will be notified of any problems. 

You may also want to consider a backup plan.  In case the camp you choose gets canceled for unexpected reason, be sure to have another camp or two in mind.