Spring is around the corner, and for many moms, it’s time to start plotting out ways to keep the kids busy this summer. Circle of Moms members like Erin B. are hoping to send their grade school-aged children to summer camp. But Erin, like many others, says she's “overwhelmed by all the choices.” How do you know which type of camp will work for your kid?
Here, Circle of Moms members share tried-and-true strategies for selecting summer camps:
1. Start With Day Camp
Instead of sending your young child packing off to a camp across the country, Circle of Moms member Krista E. suggests introducing your child to the concept of summer camps by enrolling him in day camp first. "For younger kids, day camps are a good option — it gives them a chance to get used to the camp experience, without feeling like they're stuck there.”
2. Make Sure You're Both Ready for Sleep-away
If you are considering sleep-away camp, think through the length of stay that will work for both you and your camper. Laura's daughter spent a month away and loved it, but she discovered that she herself wasn't quite ready for such a long separation. “My daughter just got back from a month at summer camp. She cried when she had to leave and wants to go for longer next year. Eve has so far learned to stern a canoe, skipper a sailboat, shoot a bow and arrow, start a fire and so many other things that I could never have taught her, so I'm glad she goes. But I think a month was a little long and I missed her like crazy by the time she got home.”
3. Follow Your Child’s Interests
The types of programs offered by both overnight and day camps are almost limitless, from sports camps to camps for budding scientists. A Circle of Moms member named Sharon suggests moms begin their search by looking for camps that match their child’s interests. “I think the big key is matching the right summer program to the kid, and making sure that the child wants to be there as opposed to forcing it upon him."
4. Ask Friends for Referrals
Now on her third year of sending her two kids to camp, Meg S. recommends asking peers for recommendations. She started there and then did further research online. “I found the overnight camps through a friend who works for an advisory service called ‘Tips on Trips and Camps.’ It was a great way to figure out what's best for your child.”
5. Look at Well-Established Summer Programs
For excellent camping programs geared towards young girls and boys, Sarah S. suggests starting with well-established organizations such as The Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts of America, or to your local YMCA or church.
6. Do a Background Check on the Camp
Several Circle of Moms members advise a thorough background check before sending your child to a camp. “I look into the camp's previous track record with kids,” says Jenn H. “If there's ever been a death (due to heat, accident) then they are ruled out immediately. Same if there's ever been any type of investigation for sexual misconduct. My four-year old goes to a half-day nature camp and there are three teachers to six children. My oldest went to a full-day Christian camp this year. I chose it because of its stellar reputation and the recommendation of other parents. That is always important.”
7. Pair Your Child Up with a Friend
Once you've chosen a camp, consider enlisting one of your child's friends to go with him or her, suggests Amanda, who sent her oldest daughter to camp for the first time with a pal. "They had a total blast. We try to pick kids from the neighborhood to go with our kids.”
How do you choose a summer camp for your child?
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.