While it may be the dead of winter, with my shoulders hunched and my face buried into the collar of my jacket, I’ve realized it is already time to start planning for summer camp. July may feel like a long way away, but the reality isthat camp is just around the corner. Soon enough our children will be frolicking in the warm sunshine, enjoying the freedom that only summer can offer.
Growing up, I went to summer camp. Day camp as a younger child, then overnight camp when I was a little older. After a brief hiatus for a few summers, I even went back as an older teenager to be a staff member and camp counselor. Camp for me was overall a great experience. However, looking back there might be a few things I would have changed—or I wish my parents had done differently.
For starters, while my father had the foresight to see that computers would be incredibly important for my future, I would have opted not to spend an entire summer indoors at computer camp. That’s right, you read that correctly, computer camp. I watched out the window everyday to see the other kids outside playing organized sports, laughing and having fun while I was stuck inside learning the ins and outs of a computer and how to work a dot matrix printer. That might sound fabulously exciting for some but I was an artsy-fartsy kind of a kid who just wanted to sing and dance in the yearly camp theatre production. I did get to do that eventually but the point is, take a good look at your child and find a camp program that is the right fit for them as an individual.
As I’m about to embark on finding a good camp program for my own child, I’ll be using the following easy five steps to choose the best program to suit my son’s personality.
If like me, and you are looking for a summer camp program, I suggest you begin your search as early as possible. This will help ensure you snag a spot in the camp that will provide the right balance of activities, atmosphere and friends.
Below are five tips to consider when picking a camp:
Dedicate time to the project
Good decisions are best made without time restrictions. Research your options ahead of time and discuss them with friends and relatives.
Focus on the needs of your child
Make a priority list of their needs and wishes and use it as a checklist when researching camps. Determine what is a necessity, and what he or she can live without.
Consider your budget
Camp fees will vary in cost depending on a number of factors: day or residential, transportation, the size of the camp, if it is a specialty or general camp. Determine your financial situation and how much you are willing to spend.
Read camp profiles and check out camp websites
Learn more about your camp options and what is available. You can read 235 camp profiles from across Ontario and Quebec on www.ourkids.net/camp/with links to websites and contact e-mails.
Once you have the short list, contact the camp. Many have additional print and online information packages with more on their missions, philosophies and day-to-day operations. Some also have videos that give you a sneak peek of life at camp.
Contact camps and ask questions
Call camps and ask to speak with the Camp Director. There is no silly question. Whatever is on your mind, ask the camp about it. They should openly welcome your inquiries.
With so many options, the search for the right camp has been a little daunting but I think that because I’m taking the time now, my son will hopefully return home from camp with a smile on his face and that he’ll have fun filled summer memories that will last him a lifetime.
One last little piece of advice. Do one or both of these: Check out www.camps.ca to help you find the right summer camp for your children or attend the Toronto Camp Expo on February 26, 2012 at Roy Thompson Hall. There will 50 of the best day and overnight programs throughout Ontario, Quebec and BC on hand and admission is free with registration at www.ourkids.net/campexpo