Choose a Camp Checklist

A parents' guide to finding the summer camp experience that's a perfect fit for your child.

Struggling to decide what camp experience is right for your child? There’s certainly no lack of choices when it comes to away-from-home summer fun for kids in southeast Michigan. Here’s a camp checklist of things worth considering when sifting through the pack. (And once you’ve figured out which theme or format is the right fit for your child, be sure to browse Metro Parent’s Camps Directory!)

  • Talk to her teachers. What kinds of subjects interest her?
  • Ask your child if there’s something he wants to learn more about.
  • Gather information about camps from brochures, Internet searches, the library, camp fairs, your child’s school, even local churches often hold inexpensive or even free summer programs.
  • Talk to your friends and neighbors about their child’s experiences at various camps.
  • Visit the camp. Many offer information nights, which are great for gauging if your child is interested (and how enthusiastic the counselors are!).
  • Ask for references from the camp and call those sources to ask about their children’s experiences.
  • Consider if the camp is too far away for you to drive your child there every day/week.
  • See if you have friends or neighbors whose children are attending the same camp, so you could carpool.
  • Look at whether there is a similar camp at a closer location.
  • Write down a list of any questions you have. Call the camp and listen to how they answer your questions. (Hint: They should be asking you questions, too, to see if your child is a good fit.)
  • Find out the camper to staff ratio. The number should be around 1 to 4 or 1 to 6. Also check whether counselors and staff receive background checks.
  • Ask if the camp is ACA (American Camp Association) certified.
  • See how children are checked in and out of the camping location.
  • Ask about the base cost of camp.
  • Find out if there are additional fees if you are late to pick up your child.
  • Make sure that you know about additional costs such as registration fees, membership dues and even equipment that you’d have to purchase for your child to participate.

This post was originally published in 2010 and has been updated for 2016