What to ask camp directors
Must-ask questions and guidance for choosing the day camp that's right for your child.
Thu Jan 1 2009
The following questions are based on parent input, years of experience in program guidance and director feedback. By exploring these areas when choosing a camp, parents will gain key insights that no brochure, video or tour could possibly contain. Director responses should be thoughtful and not off the cuff. Great directors will be able to answer your questions and discuss these topics intelligently.
Camper fit and camp culture
* How will the camp help your child achieve his and your specific goals?
* How does the camp compare to the others you're considering?
* What types of kids do best in the camp?
* What's the balance between competitive and other types of activities?
* Is there any type of reward system for exemplary behavior for both campers and staff?
* What are the camp's traditions?
* What are the major investment categories for the camp in recent years (e.g. facilities, training, etc.)?
* How is the staff hired?
* What is the minimum age?
* What is the average tenure?
* How is the staff trained?
* Does the director speak with all staff or sit in on training?
* Does the camp have an anti-bullying policy in place?
* If any staff has ever been terminated during the season, how was that handled?
* What are the educational and career backgrounds of the director and the senior staff?
Policies, roles and challenges
* What tough issues has the director faced and how were they handled?
* What are the safety and medical policies and facilities?
* What are the camp's accreditations?
* Is the director accessible off-season as well as in-season?
* What role does the director play during camp?
* How much contact does the director have with the campers and staff?
* What are the policies on parent-child contact?
* Can the camp handle any special needs your child may have?
* What kind of supervision is there on the buses?
* What are the discipline policies?
* What are the off-campus trip policies?
Above all, go with your gut. You and your child need to be completely comfortable with your decision and with the director. To help, make sure you check references either from the director or through word of mouth. If kids are old enough, have them speak with peers who have attended the camp.
These camp director questions have been excerpted from Your Everything Summer Guide & Planner, the workbook packed with advice, tools and checklists to help you prepare your child and your family for summer. Written by national summer planning expert, Jill Tipograph, founder/director of Everything Summer LLC, the independent summer guidance consultancy.