Choosing the right camp for your child can be a challenge. Summer camps range from half day experiences to overnight all summer camp. Given the variety of camps available, there’s a little something out there for everyone. Parents who are new to the summer camp scene must do research and must consider the individual needs of their child as they select a camp for the coming summer.

Know the Different Types of Camps

There are many different types of camps for different kids. The age, interests and special needs of a child can have a big influence on the type of camp that’s right for him or her.

Day Camp

Day camps are typically close to home and last only through the day. Some day camps are half day in length, other camps last the full day. For children who are young and have not spent a lot of overnight time away from home, day camps are an ideal introduction to the summer camp world. These camps are often more affordable than overnight camps, so for parents who work all day and need somewhere affordable to send their younger child, day camp is an excellent option.

Overnight Camp

Overnight camps are the quintessential summer camp experience. Children sometimes travel hundreds of miles to stay at overnight camp. For older children who want independence from their parents and while having a fun summer adventure, overnight camp may be an ideal choice. Overnight camps can vary in price and often go by sessions, with longer sessions being more expensive.

Specialized Camps

Specialized camps cater to children who have special interests. Some camps focus on academics, others help children improve their social skills. Other camps focus on hobbies like horseback riding or arts and crafts. For children who have a special career goal, specialized summer camps can bolster a child’s motivation. There are also camps for children who have special needs, where they can interact with peers in a safe and caring environment.

Consult With Your Child

Parents who pick a summer camp without consulting their child could find themselves facing a struggle. Many children like to be involved with the decision making when it comes to picking a summer activity.

Some parents worry that their child may choose a summer camp that is too expensive or not doable for other reasons. These parents can make the selection process easier by finding multiple acceptable summer camp options and then allowing their child to pick from a short list of possibilities.

Consider Your Budget

Summer camps can vary in cost from several hundred to several thousand. Parents on a budget may need to look hard to find an acceptable camp for their child. Many summer camps have scholarship options that make summer camp more affordable. Other summer camps have payment plans that allow parents to space out their payments over the course of many months. Often camps do not provide information about scholarships and payment plans on their website, so parents who need accommodations should call camps directly to find out more.

Investigate Reputation

Before making the final selection, parents must investigate the reputation of the summer camp where they would like to send their child. Some parents get referrals from their local schools, others read reviews online. Often the most clear indicator of quality is accreditation by the American Camp Association (ACA). The ACA considers camp facilities, hiring practices, safety policies and other factors before accrediting any program.

Programs that are not accredited through the ACA may also be of good quality, but the quality is often harder to verify. Talking to camp administrators, instructors and parents of children who have attended a camp can help reassure parents that the program is right for their child. Doing this research can help parents find their child a wonderful camp for the summer.