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How to Choose a Summer Camp: A Dozen Tips for Parents
Remember how comedian songwriter Allan Sherman brought the perils of summer camp to the attention of parents everywhere through his song ‘Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh’? He managed to accurately capture the anguish of reluctant kids being sent off to summer camp with such humor it anchored the #2 spot in the Billboard Top 100 charts for three solid weeks. That was in 1963 and a year later the song won a Grammy for comedy.
Parents begin the summer camp search long before the end of school. By planning ahead they can get the jump on researching and reserving a camp that will match their child’s interest and aptitude. Going to camp gives your child three things: a chance to learn a new sport or skill; social opportunities; and a week of recreational activities to ward off boredom.
Camp Granada Song
How to choose a summer camp: A Dozen Tips
Here are a few tips on what to consider when selecting a camp that is right for your child:
1. Consider her interests-there hundreds of camp programs, such as sports, dance, music, arts, animals, etc. Do your homework right and she won’t complain about being away.
2. Check the accreditation of the camp. The American Camp Association has 300 health and safety standards that must be met before accreditation.
3. Meet the director and have a tour before registering.
4. Ask for testimonials from parents of campers.
5. Request to know staff to camper ratios. A 1:8 general ratio is recommended, while a ratio of 1:3 campers is highly recommended for the pool area.
6. Ask to review their accident log.
7. Find out the experience and training of camp counselors. Ask that your child be allowed to meet his counselor prior to day one.
8. Is the swim program one that is endorsed through the American Red Cross? If not, how well trained are the lifeguards.
9. Is there a full time medical staff?
10. Is there an air conditioned area for kids to step into if needed?
11. How does the staff effectively handle conflicts between campers?
12. Is your child allowed to learn at his own pace?
Of the thousands of camp programs available in the U.S., only 2400 are accredited through the ACA. Although this may not affect your decision when you make your final selection, your child’s ability to adjust to the camp will. That is why it is important to find a good match-something that fits into your budget, is safe and fun, and holds your child’s interest.
Fun Summer Activities
Parenting: How to handle camp resistance
Despite all of your pre-camp encouragement your child may still resist the idea of being away from you whether it is for a day or overnight. Consider ways to help ease this separation anxiety to make your kid, and yourself, feel more comfortable.
Tucking in a note or small treat in her bag to remind her she is thought of may help. Asking the counseling staff to allow for a phone call may be a boon as well, although there may be restrictions to this. If she is at a week-long camp, send her some mail. Or, in our age of computers, make it an email message.
What to expect at the end of camp
When your child comes back with stories of his adventures don’t be surprised to hear him say, “I want to go back next year.” Steel yourself for the inevitable aftermath of camp life-gross stories of what other kids did; funny or embarrassing things that happened to the staff; and a song or two that is sure to eventually annoy the heck out of you. Thank goodness back-to-school is right around the corner!
Popular Camp Songs
Remember these? A list of popular kids camp songs in no particular order:
1. Found a peanut
2. The wheels on the bus
3. The bear went over the mountain
4. The diarrhea song
5. 99 bottles of pop on the wall
7. This old man
8. Row, row, row your boat
9. The bear song
10. Ants go marching
Summer Camp Movies
Before the big day arrives have some summer camp viewing adventures with the family. Here is a selection of 10 old and new ‘summer camp’ movies.
1. The Parent Trap (1961)
2. Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown (1977)
3. Meatballs (1979)
4. Space Camp (1986)
5. Ernest Goes to Camp (1987)
6. Indian Summer (1993)
7. The Parent Trap Remake (1998)
8. Camp (2003)
9. Camp Rock (2008)
10. Camp Rock2 (2010)