How to pick the right summer camp

Bev here! I’ve worked at Buck’s Rock Performing and Creative Arts Summer camp for 26 years. That’s 26 years of speaking with parents, guiding them through the enrollment process, and answering their many, many questions that they inevitably have (some enroll without a single question, and that’s cool too!).

Often, at the end of the list of standard questions parents will say, “What am I not asking?” or, “What should I be asking?” I present to you, a handy checklist of important questions to ask before enrolling your child in the summer camp of their dreams!

Is the camp American Camping Association accredited?

If the answer is yes, you are that much closer to picking the right camp. The ACA-accreditation program ensures camps are providing a quality program with regards to the health and safety of campers and staff. Covering 8 different aspects of camp administration and with hundreds of standards to adhere to, the program is rigorous and very worthwhile!

Is the camp traditional or non-traditional?

Do you think your child would prefer the Capture the Flag, outdoorsy, canoe on a lake type experience; a more scheduled program; or, maybe your child prefers to march to the beat of their own drum. Perhaps a more open format based, freedom of choice program would suit him/her better.

What is the camp’s main focus?

Performing arts, creative arts, dance, music, glass blowing, improv, science, girl scouts, boy scouts, robotics, drones, gymnastics, languages. So many options!! I always recommend using the ACA’s find-a-camp search. Find it here.

What is the camp’s visiting/contact policy?

Does the camp allow open visiting? Can you email? Can you call? Is it easy to reach out to their counselors? How about cell phones – what is the policy? You need to make sure the answer works within your comfort zone. Your child will be off having a blast. This question is for the parents!

Staff to camper ratio?

Who and how many are watching the kids?? Where does the camp find their staff? How old are they? Are they professionals in their field? Another good question – what is the camp’s return rate for staff and campers?

Can I get a reference?

If the camp has been recommended to you by a friend, you’re in great shape. Grill them! If you have found a camp online without a referral, camps should happily provide reference information. Speak to other families and get their input and experience.

Does the camp offer tuition insurance?  

Just in case it doesn’t end up being a match made in heaven, what is the camp’s refund policy? Likely the camp will not offer a refund, but some offer a tuition insurance program. Give yourself piece of mind and take it!


All pics by Lora for our past blog post about Buck’s Rock Camp

Written by Bev – besides Unlocking blogger, Administrative Director for Buck’s Rock!