A Crash Course in Camp-For Parents

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With so many choices, what should you find out about a summer camp before sending your child? All parents want to choose the best and safest experiences for their child. Here are ten questions that you should ask before enrollment:  

  1. Is this camp Accredited by the American Camp Association or other nationally recognized accrediting body?

Those with American Camp Association Accreditation have to comply with over 300 safety and youth development standards as assessed by outside reviewers. To find an ACA Accredited camp in the Front Range, visit www.acarockymountain.org or campparents.org.  

  1. Is this camp Licensed by the State?

Licensing is required in many states for camp programs for with school-aged children by the State (Department of Human Services, for example). Licensing typically mandates that camps meet specific health and safety guidelines. If a camp is not licensed, ask why not, and if they follow health and safety guidelines set out by the State.  

  1. What is the counselor-to-child ratio?

The ratio of staff to campers tells you how much individual attention your child will receive at camp. Ask the director if their ratios include just counseling staff or if they also include support staff that doesn’t work directly with campers. Find out if these ratios are different during more specialized programming, such as aquatic activities and rock climbing.  

  1. What is the background of counselors and are they background checked?

Are the counselors just there for a summer job, or are they dedicated to the fields of recreation, education or child development? Industry standard for background checks of individuals working with children includes: personal reference checks, fingerprinting and submission for screening through the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.  

  1. How are the counselors trained?

Quality camps have at least a 3-5 day training program that invests in staff and gives them tools they need to create a successful experiences. At minimum, staff should be trained in: technical skills for activities, the camp’s philosophy, emergency guidelines, age group management and activity modification. Ask the camp director how this is accomplished in staff training.  

  1. What is the median age of your camp counselors?

Mature counselors make a major difference in camp program quality and the manner in which campers are treated. Younger counselors can be outstanding babysitters in a home situation, but can be more impulsive in their judgment. If counselors are under 18, ask how they are supervised and if they supervise campers alone.  

  1. Does the camp have a crisis management plan and/or rainy day plan?

Crisis management plans are required at schools and the workplace so they should be in effect at camp too. It also rains during Colorado summers and herding an entire camp indoors without backup activities in place can be challenging.  

  1. What is the group’s practice for nutrition and hydration?

Dehydrated campers are grouchy campers and summers can be hot and dry.  What does the program do to keep campers hydrated throughout the day? Additionally, camps should have a morning snack time as well as lunch, and an afternoon snack time if camp goes late. Also ask about hand washing procedures.  

  1. How does the camp handle special needs?

This is a great question to ask for any camper. Listen for compassionate answers that involve individualized plans for each camper. Every camper has a special need at some time (nutrition, attention, hydration, rest etc.) and an environment where staff are already focused on camper needs will help all campers.  

  1. How are medications transported, stored and administered?

Legally, a nurse must delegate staff the authority for administering medications. Ask specifically about training, delegation and procedures.     For more information on all the different types of camp Avid4 Adventure offers or to ask specific questions, contact us at [email protected] or call 800-977-9873    

April 13, 2015 | Emily Moeschler
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