Choosing the Right Camp: Programming
You just got home from a Camp Fair and you’re sifting through a stack of brochures filled with pictures of smiling children playing outside. It seems like many camps meet your standards for safety, trains their counselors well, and can accommodate specific needs for your child.
But one of the most important questions remains: what’s a day at camp like? Since programming and activities are the main things that separate one camp from another, it’s useful to start off by thinking about how your child would enjoy spending their summer days. Take some time to talk as a family about what you want camp to be like, and what your child would like to learn and experience. Do they want to discover a new hobby? Make favorite art projects? Use their imagination? Starting with clear expectations can help shape your search for a camp, and make sure you find the best fit.
There are a plethora of camps out there, and each one is a little different from the next. This variety of options often thrills kids, but overwhelms their parents. When researching camps, it’s helpful to ask the director and staff specific questions about their programming. Your family can know what to expect, and programming often gives a clue to the mission, values, and philosophy guiding each camp.
Activities & Schedule
It’s good to know what the day’s activities will be like at camp. Ask questions that will help you paint a picture of the camp experience for you and your child.
- Is there a specific programming focus (nature, high adventure, horses, water sports) or does your camp do a little bit of everything?
- What activities do you offer?
- How structured is your schedule? Do campers get to choose the order of their activities or how much time to spend in an activity area, or is that decided by staff ahead of time?
- How big are your activity groups?
- Will my child be in a new group each day, or with the same group all week?
- Is there an activities list, themes list, or schedule on your website?
- Do campers do each activity every day, or is each day focused on unique activities?
- Is there an educational aspect?
- Are there aquatic activities?
- What do you do on rainy days?
- Do you have visitors and special guests at camp to entertain campers?
Once you know about the focus of the activities, make sure they are both age appropriate and interesting for your child. Some camps give the camper a choice for their activities, while others have a more structured schedule. Make sure the level of structure is a good match for you and your child.
What to Bring
Being prepared for activities each day is important to get the most out of camp. Asking about what to bring (or not) and what the camp provides for activities is a good way to avoid last-minute stress when you have chosen a camp and are preparing for the first day.
- Do you have a packing list on your website?
- Does camp have theme days that you will need to pack costumes and props for?
- Is there anything that my child can’t bring to camp?
- Will sunscreen and bugspray be available at camp?
- Does the camp sell supplies, snacks or lunches in a camp store or canteen? If so, how much should my child bring?
Camps will provide a Parent Guide once you register, but there are usually online versions available if you want to review it before your child is signed up. Talking about it as a family is also a great way to get excited about camp!
Values & Priorities
You can’t really go wrong in choosing a camp. Most camps will be a positive experience for kids, but taking some time to learn about the values and mission of your favorite camps is a great way to make sure that they share the same passion and priorities when it comes to kids’ growth and development.
- What are some core values of your camp? How are they reflected in the programming?
- Other than new activities and games, what do you hope campers will learn during their sessions?
- Does your camp value community service?
- Do you partner with other like-minded organizations?
Leadership Academy’s programs are focused on getting people outside to play. We believe that connecting people to nature builds strong character and changes lives for the better. Our immersive nature day camps are highly personalized and designed to let campers choose their own adventure, with flexible schedules and small group activities focused on encouraging creativity, and cultivating inner strength.
We believe in the unique abilities of every camper, and want your child to shine at camp through our innovative, adaptable programming. If you are ready for them to grow, learn and thrive, check out our family of camps. We can help you decide which camp is the best way for your child to explore. Send us your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 615-856-4772.