by Laura Pearson, Guest Blogger, Edutude
Perhaps you are running out of ideas for activities to keep your child busy during the summer months. Maybe you want your child to meet other children their age or discover new interests and skills. Whatever your reason for considering sending your child to summer camp, there are a few things to take into consideration.
Consider the Length
When finding summer camps, are you looking for a half-day, full-day, or overnight camp? According to Simply Circle, half-day camps are typically held for around three hours in the morning or afternoon and provide your child with a few hours of activities. This is a good option for children who are attending summer camp for the first time. Keep in mind that you will need to arrange for someone to pick your child up, so if your work schedule isn’t flexible and you don’t have additional support, you might consider a full-day camp. Full-day camps typically last about six hours, with the possibility of before- and after-care depending on the program. The day is typically a little more structured than a half-day, with scheduled activities like swimming, snacks, and lunch. Overnight camps offer some of the same types of activities as a half- or full-day camp, but it is important that you make sure your child is ready to spend a few days, or a week, away from home. The typical age to attend an overnight camp is about age nine, but only you know the comfort level of your child.
Consider the Cost
Summer camp costs vary depending on your location, camp type, and the number of children attending. Day camps are the most affordable option, with Care estimating the cost to range from $100 to $500 a week depending on whether the camp is hosted by a nonprofit or for-profit organization. Specialty or private camps will typically run from about $500 to $1,000 a week, with overnight camps being the most expensive at about $700 to up to $2,000 or more a week. Keep in mind that prices may be higher or lower depending on your situation, but there is a camp budget suited for everyone.
There are ways to cut costs as well. According to the American Camp Association (ACA), summer camps often offer discounts for things such as early registration, full-season, or multiple campers from a single family. Some camps offer scholarships and financial assistance, so be sure to ask if your income qualifies. Local churches, civic organizations, clubs, sororities, and fraternities may also have funds available to help send children to camp. The ACA also encourages parents to ask whether the camp participates in income-eligible subsidy programs, and look into ways to deduct camp expenses from taxes such as the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. Planning ahead could also be beneficial in financing summer camp. If you know you want to send your child to summer camp, set aside a little bit of money each month. Consider letting your child be involved too by setting up a chore and reward system. The ACA says, “The bottom line about camp costs is that there’s a camp for just about every budget.”
Consider ACA-Accredited Camp
According to the ACA, accreditation is voluntary but assures you that the summer camp is dedicated to providing a safe and fun environment for your child by evaluating the camp on up to 300 different standards. ACA accreditation goes beyond standard state licensing requirements and looks at standards such as appropriate staff-to-camper ratios, first-aid facilities, staff training, and goals for camp activities that are developmentally based. To find an ACA-accredited camp, use their website search tool. Regardless of whether the camp is ACA-accredited, make sure the summer camp meets state standards for health, cleanliness, food service, camp staff, and emergency management plans to ensure your child has a great experience at summer camp.
Ms. Pearson believes students can learn more when they have fun doing so. She and Edutude strive to find unique, creative ways for parents and educators to encourage students to be challenged, motivated and excited by learning.