The Top 6 Factors To Consider When Choosing A Camp

little kid at summer camp feeding a goat
Farm & Wilderness

Finding the right camp for your child is a big decision, after all, you are deciding on your child’s summer home for years to come. We spoke with a number of camp professionals about what they feel parents should be focusing on when looking for a camp. Here’s what they had to say:

Philosophy over facilities

“Facilities are certainly a factor in choosing a camp but more important is the philosophy of the camp and if it aligns with your values. Does the camp’s philosophy create a caring community that allows your child to be themselves, form genuine relationships and thrive in a supportive atmosphere? Is the camp intentional about creating this kind of community and helping your child learn life skills, step outside of their comfort zone and grow into their best self? How does the camp promote positive values and inspire this kind of growth? A nice soccer field and a cool ropes course are great, but the camp’s philosophy is the most important thing to consider for your child’s success and happiness at camp.” –Owen Langbart, Owner & Director, Greenwood Trails Summer Camp

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Consider your child

“If your child is asking for an art camp but you’re imagining reliving Color War vicariously through your child, stop for a minute and consider your child’s interests and what they want from the camp experience. It’s hard not to consider your own interests, but your child is the camper—that fact must always be top of mind. Make sure you choose a program that features their specific interests and passions whether it’s soccer, science, arts and crafts or something else.”Lauren Wexler, Director, 92Y Camps

Director qualifications

“The camp director is the top person in a camp’s leadership team who will be caring for your child at camp and it’s important for you to respect, trust and understand who the director is. Find out what the director’s past camp or relatable experience is. You also want to ask yourself what the director will do to enable your child’s success and how tuned in the director will be over the summer. Positive answers to these questions will help guide your camp decision.” –Scott Rothschild, Director, Kenmont & Kenwood Camps

Staff quality

“It’s important to inquire about who the staff is. When researching camps, ask how long the staff training is, what the average age of the staff is, how many staff are returning and how the director evaluates and provides feedback to their staff during the summer months.” –Amanda Ward, Director, Camp Chinqueka

Must haves & wish list

“Come up with a list of ‘must haves’ and a ‘wish list’ when beginning your camp search. Your ‘must have’ list includes the items you feel are essential for your child to have at camp. Your ‘wish list’ are things you would like the camp to have but are not deal breakers. In a perfect world, the must haves and the wish list will all come together at a camp but often you can’t get every detail or activity you were hoping for. If your child is intent on learning to water ski, then having a great lake is going to be a necessity. If your child has severe food allergies, then finding a camp able to handle that food allergy will be paramount to your decision. Think about your specific needs prior to looking into camp choices so that you won’t be overwhelmed by the many camp options.” Renee Flax, Camper Placement Specialist, American Camp Association, NY & NJ

Focus on the feel

“After your initial camp research is done, you will probably find that all the camps you looked at had nice facilities, fun activities and focus on the safety of children. What matters most is which camp made you and your child feel most comfortable and at home. All camps create a slightly different environment so you want to pick the one that feels right and fits best for your family.” –Matt Krouner, Owner & Director, Camp Schodack