Touring the Grounds

Helpful tips for your camp visits.

Camp provides children with the opportunity to have new experiences and develop life skills, such as self-esteem, leadership and confidence. For families considering camp, touring while camp is in session is the ultimate way to get a feel for a summer programís culture.

Touring gives parents and prospective campers a chance to see camp in action, with campers enjoying all the fun activities the camp has to offer. A tour also gives you a chance to ask the camp director questions while you are in the camp environment. It is important for parents to make sure they click with the camp director and have the opportunity to ask key questions. Touring also gives a child the feeling that he or she is part of the process of choosing a program. The more involved a child feels in choosing his summer venture, the more successful his experience will be. Further, camp tours help families narrow down the choices.

If you are considering sleepaway camp, many offer rookie days designed to give future campers a chance to experience camp in session by joining the activities for a day. While kids are preoccupied with typical camp bustle, parents tour the facility and grounds.

Families that tour during the off-season have a chance to see the facilities and meet the camp director. Camps also have Open Houses in the fall and spring, and some camps participate in camp fairs, which are great for getting to know camp directors and learn about various programming. Many camp directors are willing to schedule home visits, as well.

Each camp is different. It is important for parents to find the right fit for their child, making it ideal to explore all available options.

Top Questions to Ask a Camp Director When Choosing a Camp

What should parents be looking for in a camp? The American Camp Association, New York and New Jersey recommends that families ask the following questions when researching a summer program.

  1. What is your campís philosophy and program emphasis? Ask about the campís philosophy and make sure it matches with your own familyís values. Ensure the program offers activities that are suitable and of interest to your little one.
  2. Who is the camp director? Camp directors set the tone of the camp. Make sure you click with the director and feel that the director can answer all your questions and concerns. Find out about the directorís education, background and experience. You are forming a partnership with him or her. Therefore, keep in mind that the more open you are with directors about your child, the better informed you are to make a decision.
  3. Who is caring for my child? Ask about the staff composition, including the ages, experience and training of counselors. You may want to inquire about background checks, the interview process, camper-to-staff ratios and supervision in cabins for sleepaway camps.
  4. What are the safety procedures? Find out what safety measures are in place, including medical personnel on property, emergency plans, staff screening procedures and instructor qualifications.
  5. How do you handle special requirements for campers? If your child has food allergies, behavioral issues, religious obligations, etc., be upfront and honest about your kidís needs. You want to confirm that the camp can accommodate him or her.
  6. Do you have references I can call? This is a great way to find out about a camp. Talk to other parents and ask about their childís experience.