Young people are drawn to a variety of special interest camps, including computers, gymnastics, lacrosse, engineering, music dance or more.
"Summer camp is not as standardized as it used to be," according to Connecticut Better Business Bureau spokesman Howard Schwartz. "While many young people opt for the traditional menu of sports, gymnastics and related activities, there is an impressive list of camps dedicated to individual campers' tastes. Your child can be part of the research process by helping guide your selection."
Regardless of whatever camp you choose, the most important elements to consider are that its facilities are safe, well-run and properly maintained, with well-trained staff to take care of your child. Before signing a contract for a summer camp, you should be familiar with staff, activities and management of emergencies.
The first place to start after you decide on a prospective camp is to check it out at bbb.org to learn about others' experiences and any complaints, or to look for a BBB-accredited camp. BBB also recommends verifying whether the camp is a member of the American Camp Association (ACA), and meets its 32 mandatory national summer camp standards.
Connecticut Better Business Bureau offers the following checklist to help you select a safe and entertaining summer camp:
Visit the camp - This will allow you to check the facilities such the bunks, dining area, medical clinic, swimming pool or lake.
Ask about the staff - Things you might want to know include whether staff members are subject to background checks, how are they trained and how many years they have worked at the camp
Verify medical emergency procedures - How far is the closest trauma center? To what degree is the camp clinic outfitted to handle emergencies? Is a medical doctor on site or nearby?
Find out the rules - How are standard behavior and safety rules enforced? How does the camp deal with a homesick camper? What protocols are in place for activities such as water sports?
Ask about fees -Are there any extra fees for activities such as outings and overnight camping trips?
Speak with other parents and children - Ask for references so that you can ask about their and their child's experience at the camp last year, whether they would recommend it and why or why not.
If this will be your first contact with the summer camp representatives, remember that you will be putting the well-being of your child into the hands of strangers.
By the time the bus leaves on its way to summer camp, you should already know the staff as well as possible, so that when your camper comes home, his or her face and stories should show you that your child is indeed a happy camper.
You can select from a list of BBB-accredited camps at bbb.org.
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