Step 3: Decide on your wants and needs
No single summer camp can be everything to every child! There are many different types of camps out there. In order to find the best fit, you and your child must determine what it is you're looking for.
What are you looking for?
1. Type of camp:
Traditional typically means they offer a wide range of activities. Things such as swimming, sports, arts and crafts, nature exploration, and archery are just a few of the traditional possibilities. There are camps out there that have a dazzling breadth of choices including: circus, skate boarding, water-ski, and computer lab. Additionally traditional camps allow for campers to try new things and interact with different people.
Specialty typically means they offer a focused program specializing in a select few activities. Sometimes these are combined with traditional camp programs. Some examples of popular specialty camps include: horseback riding, tennis, computer, and service learning trips abroad.
Special needs typically means they are equipped to focus on a specific type of camper population and gear their program towards those abilities. They tend to have staff that are very knowledgeable about their specific focus. Examples of special needs camps might include: diabetes, MR/DD, cancer, and grief camps.
Close by typically means it will be easier for you to arrange a tour of camp. It is more likely you might encounter others who can advise you on their experiences with the program. It might be minimal travel time and it is likely campers will encounter others from their school and community.
Far away typically means exposure to a different experience, be it geographical or cultural. It promotes more of a sense of independence and allows campers to interact with a more diverse population than what they might be used to. It allows family to visit and vacation in that proximity.
3. Session length
A short session of a week or two typically means first time campers learn new skills and bonds with others begin to develop. It offers a great exposure to camping with less expense and offers the freedom to arrange other things during the summer months.
A longer session of 4 - 8 weeks typically means campers develop a strong sense of belonging to the camp community. They learn new skills, but often develop a set of specialized skills as well. They develop very deep, life-long friendships and have opportunities to contribute to the culture of the camp.
Single gender camps typically means there are more opportunities to be yourself without the pressure of impressing or competing with the opposite sex. They are typically more open about issues and often break out of the stereo types associated with gender.
Co-ed camps typically mean the campers prepare for every day life; the world is co-ed. Campers have opportunities to do activities by gender, yet have opportunities to practice interacting with the other gender. It also allows families with a boy and girl to attend the same camp.