It may be cold outside, but we’re looking ahead to summer! The DFW Kids Camp Expo is coming up in February, which means it’s time to start thinking about summer camp. Maybe you spent winter break making lists of local summer care options, or maybe you haven’t given it a single thought yet. At the DFW Kid's Directory Summer Camp Expo, you’ll have an opportunity to meet face-to-face with 40+ local and out-of-state summer camps, summer activities, family exhibitors, and vendors. Admission to the Expo is free! You'll be able to grab information on a wide variety of camp options, many of which you might not have considered or even known about. It’s a great idea to start thinking about questions for vendors - we’re happy to get you started!
What Kind of Camp is Best for Your Child?
There are so many different kinds of summer camps available for your children. If you’d like to keep them close to home, or you just want them engaged during the day and home at night, a day camp would be your best fit. If you’d like your children to become more independent while you enjoy some well-earned rest and relaxation, sleep-away camp is a great option. Once you decide between day camp and sleep-away camp, it’s time to consider the different types of camps - some camps are mainly centered around outdoor activities like hiking, swimming, archery, sports, and survival skills, while other camps may have more indoor activities like coding, acting, gymnastics and dance, academics, and more. Some camps offer just a few hours each day, and some are open up to 12 hours daily or are sleep-away camps. There are religious camps and secular camps. There are camps for children with special needs. Lots of great options to consider - start talking with your child to determine which camps they might be interested in.
Questions to Ask When Choosing a Camp
You want to make sure you choose the best camp for your family, so it’s a good idea to start putting together some questions to ask when meeting with camp directors. Here are some great questions to add to your list!
What kinds of screening and training does the camp use for its counselors? Are counselors certified in first aid and CPR? How often do counselors go through safety training? What is the counselor retention rate? What is the camper retention rate? What’s the ratio of counselors to campers? The ratio should vary by age, with smaller ratios for younger campers. Day camps should also be listed with TX DFPS - check for violations before committing to a camp.
What medical staff work at the camp and what emergency facilities are nearby? An overnight camp have a licensed physician or registered nurse on the site every day, while day camps should have direct phone access and a plan for emergencies. If your child takes medication, has food allergies, or has a chronic medical condition, ask questions to ensure that the camp will be able to handle your child’s needs.
What is the camp’s approach to discipline and how does the camp handle conflicts between campers? Every camp has rules - find out what they are and what breaches would result in a camper being sent home. Ideally, a camp’s discipline program with align with your family’s values.
What does a typical daily schedule look like? How much freedom to campers have to determine which activities they’d like to do and how much downtime they will have? Depending on your child’s energy level and willingness to follow a schedule, you may want a camp with a strict schedule or a camp that is more laid-back.
Will the camp be transporting the children? Some camps, like the YMCA or the JCC, offer bussing from their local branches to their larger day camp facilities. What vehicles are used, and how often are they inspected? Who drives them, and what training do drivers have?
Does the camp, if it’s a day camp, provide meals and snacks, or will you be responsible for providing your child’s food each day? How does the camp handle food allergies and sensitivities?
Is the camp religious? Some camps are clearly affiliated with religious groups, but other camps are less obvious. If you are only interested in a religious camp, or if you are only interested in a secular camp, you should plan to ask the directors what kind of religious background, if any, the camp has and what kind of exposure to religion the campers have on a daily basis.
Do the counselors have training on campers with special needs? Is it a special needs camp? Will your special needs child have access to all activities at the camp?
Good Vibes Only
When chatting with camp directors and staff, keep an eye out for any red flags or anything at all that makes you uncomfortable. Did you get a bad vibe from a staff member? Were your safety concerns blown off? If you get the feeling the directors think you’re taking too much of their time, or if they aren’t open and willing to answer every one of your questions, they may not be the camp for your family. Do what makes you comfortable! You’ll breathe easier knowing your children are well cared for in an environment that promotes safety and fun.
Be sure to bring your questions to the DFW Kid's Directory Summer Camp Expo! Join us February 22 in Dallas or February 29 in Frisco. Get your free tickets here!