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    Ask This When Choosing a Summer Camp for Your Child

    Summer camp is about more than hiking, boating and roasting marshmallows around the campfire. For scores of children and teens, summer camp is a source of enrichment and fulfillment where friendships are made and horizons are broadened. Young people grow more independent while spending a week or two away from home, and they learn valuable leadership and team-building skills that can help them for the rest of their lives. All summer camps are different, built upon their own core principles and featuring unique activities and features. Choosing the right summer camp for your child can lead to an exhilarating week and lifelong memories. Ask the following questions to help choose the summer camp that best fits with your kid.

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    What is the philosophy of this summer camp?
    Do you want to send your child to a summer camp that's based upon a certain set of core values? Some camps focus on teaching leadership skills, while some exist purely for kids to have a good time while making friends. Other camps are based upon religious education, such as faith-based Christian camps. Some summer camps are focused on playing certain sports. There are even camps for kids with diabetes, young people of the LGBT community and others with numerous other interests. Be sure to always clarify the core principles of various summer camps.
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    How many camp counselors previously attended the camp as participants?
    A good summer camp will have a high rate of return by participants who return as counselors. Asking about how many counselors used to attend the camp as participants will give you a good idea about the quality of experience your child will likely receive.
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    How does the summer camp handle bullying?
    Bullying is a persistent problem among groups of young people, and different summer camps may have different procedures in place for dealing with reported instances of bullying. If you're worried about your child getting bullied, ask about this ahead of time to make sure you approve of the camp's bullying policies. You'll feel better if you send your kid to a place with the right disciplinary procedures in place.
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    How are counselors hired at this summer camp?
    Are most camp counselors former campers, or are more of them career counselors who never participated at this camp? What kind of experience is required of people who work as counselors? What kinds of background checks are required? Ask these questions so you feel comfortable with who will be in charge of your children for part of the summer.
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    What will my child do during a typical day?
    What do you want your child to get from going to summer camp? This is an important issue, which is why asking for an overview of day-to-day scheduling is important. Some summer camps have open itineraries for campers to do what they'd like, while other summer camps are much more structured as groups move from one activity to the next. Asking about scheduling can help you understand which camps your child is most likely to enjoy and learn from.
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    How are children transported to and from summer camp?
    Most summer camps require participants to meet in a common area, such as a school or church parking lot, where they board buses to be taken to their campgrounds. Other camps require campers to be dropped off near the camp and then hike in as a group. In addition, summer camps may have certain procedures in place to make sure campers are actually returned to their parents. Ask summer camps about which procedures they follow for children to be transported to and from camp.
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    What should my child bring?
    Depending on what your child will be doing at camp, he or she may need to bring certain clothes or supplies in order to fully participate. Ask for packing lists that include everything needed for the duration of camp.
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    What kind of medical facilities does this summer camp have?
    Summer camps always have an on-hand medical staff as well as a first-aid and medical area capable of handling most common health issues. These required camp staffs include having licensed physicians or registered nurses on site at all times. Ask camp representatives about their medical facilities and how many health professionals they have on hand. If your child has special medical needs, ask what the camp staff can do to make sure your child's needs are met.