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How to Choose the Right Summer Camp

With one of the coldest winters in recent memory, it is tough to think that summer is just around the corner.   Even though there are several months of school remaining, planning ahead and choosing the right summer camp for your child can take time to do research and ensure the camp’s programs meet your daughter or son’s needs.

Fortunately, we have put together some suggestions to help get you started on the journey of selecting the right camp.

Discuss Your Child’s Interests:  Before doing any research, it is important to understand what your child’s goals and interests are over the summer.   First, gage their feelings and comfort level with going to camp, in particular if you are considering overnight.   Some additional questions and discussion items to consider are around what type of camp they are interested in (ie. sports, arts), what they are looking to accomplish and how long they are interested in attending.

Get Up to Speed:   There are numerous resources to get started on searching for Toronto day camps and overnight camps.   Here are three suggestions:

Help We’ve Got Kids – Summer Camps:  In addition to being an excellent resource for all parent needs and questions, HWGK has a listing of close to 300 summer camps and activities.  Parents can refine their searches in different areas including:  overnight, arts, specialty and sports camps.

Post City Magazines – Camp Guide:  Helpful resource with close to 100 Toronto day and overnight camps listed.   Depending on your child’s interests, refine your search by speciality and camp type.   Don’t miss their special Camp Guide insert in your local Post City Magazine.

Our Kids:  A leading Canadian resource in camps and private schools, Our Kids allows you to search various camps by location, type and sport.   They also have an excellent resource guide for parents with all the key questions and concerns that will likely arise.

Learn More:  Once you have had a chance to understand your child’s interests and get a better understanding of the camps available, it is time to narrow down your research to a smaller list of camps.  As you are considering your options, here are some suggestions to help assist you with your decision:

Follow-Up Questions:  Once you have reviewed a camp’s information online, we would recommend following up with them on any key questions you might have.  Some questions to think about asking are around:  counselor to camper ratio, safety procedures, camp philosophy, ongoing communication process with parents, accreditations, typical day for a camper and policy for child illness / refunds.

Speak with Friends / Family:   These are a very helpful source if their daughter or son has already attended the camp.   Not only learn about the quality of the camp, but also understand whether the camp will be the right fit for your child.   If you are still looking for any references, the camp directors should be more than willing to provide references upon request.

Information Session / Open Houses:  Many camps host an open house or information session outside of the summer months.   This is a great chance to see the facilities, meet the leadership staff and ask about any questions that relate specifically to your child’s needs in person.

Special Needs:  If your child has an allergy, learning disability or other medical condition, inquire what extra support the camp can help assist with special requirements for your child.  There are many camps designed specifically for children with various special needs.

Selecting a Camp:   Once you have narrowed down your options, note all the pros and cons and ask for your child’s input.   Select your top choice and register as early as possible as many camps have limited registration and offer a discount for early signup.

Supporting Your Child:   As the school year comes to an end and camp approaches, it is beneficial to prepare your son or daughter about the camp experience.   This is particularly important if it is their first time at camp in general or attending overnight camp.  Discuss all the exciting activities at camp they will enjoy and how they will meet new friends outside of school.

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