When the end of the school year approaches, many parents want to find summer camps to keep their kids busy and entertained. Nowadays, there are camps as diverse as theater day camps, camps for children with special needs, science boarding camps and equestrian camps. The activities, cost and location are a few of the major considerations for most families. To find the best camp for your child's summer vacation, you'll need to put in a fair amount of effort researching.
Consult with Your Child
Before you begin your search for summer camps, it's a good idea to talk with your child about his preferences. Summer camps are a great place to spend a few days or even a few weeks, but it's essential that your child is at a camp he will enjoy. If your child is unsure, a camp offering a variety of activities--arts and crafts, sports, field trips, swimming--is a always a safe selection. Getting your child's thoughts is an important way to start narrowing down what to look for. However, keep in mind, camp is also a good time to have your child try things he hasn't done before. He might discover he enjoys kayaking or horseback riding.
Most camps across the country have information and registration materials online. Search for camps for your child based on parameters that are important for you. These might include the location, the cost, the age range of the campers, how long each camp session goes for, and whether it's a day camp or an overnight camp. Read the sites' forums and see what past campers say about their experiences. Make up a list of different camps that you find and include that information so that you can compare them all later.
Look for Word-of-Mouth Recommendations
One of the best ways to find a good camp for your kids is to speak with other parents you know and trust about their experiences. Unless you plan to send your child to a camp far away, you'll likely be considering many of the same options as are parents in your neighborhood or whose kids go to school with yours. Parents that have kids who actually experienced the camps you're considering can give you real pros and cons so you can make an informed decision.
It's smart to reserve a spot early for your child. Many camps fill up quickly--even before the summer begins. You can register for many camps online; others will require that you call them or mail in a registration sheet. Another benefit of early registration is that many camps offer early bird discounts, which are oftentimes considerably less than if you registered closer to the summer. However, be prepared to pay a registration deposit or even the full balance when registering, as your payment usually reserves your spot. If you do register early, make sure you know the policy if your summer plans change and you'd like to switch camp dates or even need a refund.