Still looking for the perfect summer camp for your child? Learn about more than 20 regional summer camps at Washington FAMILY’s Summer Camp and Activities Fair on Saturday, March 10, from 1 to 4 p.m., at RIO Washingtonian Atrium in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Meet local camp directors and find out about the programs they run.
With so many camps to choose from, picking the right one for your kids can feel overwhelming. Here are 10 practical questions to ask camp directors — their answers may give you valuable insight in your camp selections.
1. What is your background, and how long have you run the camp?
2. What are the camp’s philosophy and goals?
3. What is the camper-to-counselor ratio? According to the American Camp Association (ACA), the ratio should be based on the ages of the children and must take into account the special needs of the campers. For day camps, the ratios are: one staff member for every eight campers for ages 6 to 8; one staff member for every 10 campers for ages 9 to 14; and one staff member for every 12 campers for ages 15 to 17. For resident campers without disabilities, ratios can range from one staff member for every six campers for ages 6 to 8; one staff member for every eight campers for ages 9 to 14; and one staff member for every 10 campers for ages 15 to 17. For campers who are severely intellectually challenged, a ratio of one staff member to one camper is required.
4. What is the average age of your camp staff? ACA recommendations are that 80 percent or more of the camp staff should be 18 years or older. For special needs camps, 100 percent of counselors should be 18 years or older.
5. What percentage of staff/counselors return each year? Staff turnover is inevitable, but if less than 40 percent of the staff members return, ask why.
6. If it’s a specialty camp (such as tennis, soccer, art, computers or dance), what is the expertise of the staff?
7. What percentage of campers return each year? A large number of returning campers indicates a high level of satisfaction.
8. What is the emergency/medical preparedness of your staff?
9. How does the camp include campers with special needs? Also, how does the camp accommodate campers with regard to medications, allergies, etc.?
10. Does the camp provide transportation? Most camps use vans or buses. How often are the vehicles inspected? Also, how are the backgrounds of the drivers checked?
For more information on ACA-accredited camps, visit acacamps.org.