Recipe for a happy camper
The sun is warmer, the days are longer, and – suddenly – the kids are out of school for the summer. If you’re considering sending your son or daughter to camp, you might look to WVU Extension’s 4-H faculty – the camping experts – for some pointers.“Camp is associated with having fun, spending time in the outdoors, and making new friends,” says Bill Beckley, WVU Extension camping specialist. “It’s important to find the right camp to match your child’s age and interests. It will help to include your child in the process of selecting the camp.”
Here are some things to consider and questions to ask when you’re choosing a camp.
- How much experience does your child have with overnight stays away from home? Resident camps may last from a few days to several weeks. Some agencies offer day camps, which provide activities only during the daytime; participants go home to spend the night with their families. Day camps and resident camps of short duration might be better choices for children who have little experience with being away from home for several nights.
- How well does a camp’s educational program line up with the child’s interests? Some camps specialize in one area, like a sports camp. Others offer a broader range of educational offerings from which a child can choose.
- What does the camp say about its staff and their capabilities? Parents should expect that all camp staff have been adequately screened and trained and they that they hold the necessary credentials to perform their roles and job duties. First and foremost, camp staffers should be agents of positive youth development. Camps should follow the suggested best practices for camper to counselor ratios, such as those published by the American Camp Association.
- What policies does the camp have related to bullying, harassment, and other aspects of emotional and physical safety?
- What age ranges does the camp target? Is there a logical progression of educational activities, so that older, more experienced campers have new opportunities to build on what they did in previous years?
- If your child has special medical needs, does the camp have experience with similar children or the capacity to deal with those needs?
A little research – and communication – can help you and your child have a positive camp experience.
You can find more information about choosing a summer camp by visiting the American Camp Association’s “Camp Parent” website.West Virginia 4-H Camping Opportunities