Summer is just around the corner, and for most kids that means school is out.
But for parents, the summer months present a child care gap, one often filled with camps.
The task of identifying the right camp has grown increasingly hard as the options have multiplied. There’s now an overwhelming amount of camps designed to suit every child’s interests, from gymnastics to Spanish to marine biology and everything in between.
It can be difficult as a parent to sift through it all to find the best option — we’ve got some tips on finding the best one.
1. Know your scheduling needs
Camps offer many options in terms of scheduling, from meeting once or twice a week for a few hours, to those that run eight or 10 weeks for the entire day.
“Whether you’re a working parent looking for full time child care or are just looking to fill a few summer hours here and there, being clear about your family's scheduling needs will help narrow your search to those camps that best fit your summer plans,” said Alexandra Fung, CEO of Upparent.com, a parenting recommendation site.
2. Consider your child’s age & interests
With the great variety of camps available, make summer an opportunity for your child to grow in an area of interest or discover a new passion, said Fung. But keep in mind that some camps may have age restrictions.
3. Decide how far you want to travel
If convenience or staying local are important, you can narrow your search to nearby options, said Fung.
“If, on the other hand, you’re willing to travel for a particular specialty camp such as language immersion or extreme skateboarding, distance may not be as important of a limiting factor,” she said.
4. Reach out to other parents
Mom blogs, parenting magazines, local newspapers and area community centers are good resources of information on summer camp offerings, said Carol Buttenham, marketing director for Mr. Bond’s Science Guys, a summer camp.
“Whether it's at the school pickup line or using an online resource, it's always helpful to do a little digging to get a sense for which camps will provide the best experience for you and your child,” said Fung.
Other questions to consider
Finally, when reviewing individual camps, there’s a number of additional questions to consider before making a final decision, said Buttenham.
Here some questions to think about:
- It a local company running the camp or is it a national brand?
- Does the camp have a history of connection to your area?
- How many kids will there be for each instructor?
- What does the structure of the day look like?
Other questions to ask include whether the camp supplies lunch for your child and if after care is available.
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Image: Ashton Bingham