Choose a Camp Checklist for Parents and Kids

Summer experiences have long-term perks for kids. Use our choose a camp checklist to find a great fit, and check out Metro Parent's Virtual Camp Fair Week, too.

When it comes to picking a primo summer experience, southeast Michigan kids have loads of choices. That’s where a choose a camp checklist comes in handy.

After all, camp is packed with benefits for kids of all ages. Lessons can remain with kids throughout their lives, research from the American Camp Association notes, and even help kids navigate school and their future careers.

That said, finding that perfect summer camp for kids doesn’t have to be rocket science, either! That’s precisely why Metro Parent compiled this choose a camp checklist of essentials worth considering.

Remember, though, that there’s no better way to find a perfect fit than checking camps out in person. A stellar way to do that is at the free Metro Parent Virtual Camp Fair Week — our annual event that happens in early March each year, giving you plenty of time to sign up for hot-ticket camps.

Now, read on for that checklist!

  • Talk to your child’s teachers. What kinds of subjects interest him or her?
  • Ask your child if there’s something he or she wants to learn more about.
  • Gather information about camps from brochures, web searches, the library, camp fairs, your child’s school — even local churches hold inexpensive or free summer programs.
  • Talk to friends and neighbors about their children’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.
  • See if you have friends or neighbors whose children are attending the same camp, so you could carpool.
  • Consider if the camp is too far away for you to drive your child there every day or week.
  • 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 for the program.
  • 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 American Camp Association (ACA) 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.
  • Find out about flexibility. Some kids start out in camps that just aren’t a good fit. If a camp has multiple offerings, directors can place your child in another program that might make him or her more comfortable.

Whether it’s day camp or sleepaway overnight camp, sports-focused or STEM-centric, the most important thing is finding a camp that meets your child’s interests and your family’s needs.

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  1. Thanks for the reminder that it’s important to visit the camp first when planning to opt for overnight camps. I’m interested in looking for one because my kids have been quite rowdy these past few months. I think it would be nice for them to expend all that youthful energy towards productive things.


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