By Pam Wolf, Founder & CEO, NY Kids Club
A summer day camp can be the perfect opportunity for children to discover a new passion, dig deeper into an existing one, and, most importantly, learn resilience and independence in a new setting away from their parents. Families that find a good match often have children who want to return year after year.
When you begin the work of researching and selecting a day camp for your child, you will find the pool of options to be both wide and deep. By asking the right questions and looking for certain qualifications, the process does not have to be strenuous. If you’re looking for a day camp for the first time, consider these 5 factors:
Always start with your child. What are his interests? What is she drawn to? Most day camps have a specialty or focus, whether it’s gymnastics, arts, a sport, music, or STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Many specialty camps have limited availability, so be sure to call the camps your child might be interested in to ask when enrollment begins and how many spots are available.
The whole point of sending your children to a day camp or any other summer enrichment program is to expose them to activities and experiences they wouldn’t otherwise have access to. If you’re eyeing a particular camp, read up on its mission and values (i.e., fostering independence by providing campers with choices). Decide if its philosophy is reflected in its activities.
For obvious reasons, this is an important point to assess fully. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and talk with the directors of a few camps before you make your final decision. Good camps are expecting to hear from parents, and are happy to answer all of your questions.One of your first inquiries should be about the training their staff receives on counseling, safety and supervision. You also have the right to know the staff’s qualifications (for example, a camp that specializes in teaching gymnastics should have instructors with a strong background in that area) and whether or not camp staff are background-checked or require references before they are hired. In the case of indoor camps, it is also important to ask if the camp is being held in a space licensed by the Department of Health.Here are some other questions you may want to ask the staff before you make your choice:
• What is the counselor-to-student ratio?
• What is your communication plan? Who will contact me if my child gets sick or has a problem?
• Is your staff mindful about how the students are getting along, and will they place certain students with each other to ensure everyone has a positive experience?
• What does a typical daily schedule look like?
• Are children with the same counselor all day, or do they switch between activities? How closely are they supervised?
• Is an open house or camp kickoff event offered before camp starts?
Is lunch served, or are campers expected to bring their own lunch? Are snacks and drinks provided? Does the camp acknowledge the needs of children with food allergies?
Check out camp reviews and testimonials online. If you have any concerns, ask if you can speak directly to a parent who has sent his/her child to the camp in the past.
If you do your homework, you’ll likely find an excellent fit for your child. Best of luck finding an environment that will enhance your child’s summer!
Learn more about NY Kids Club summer camps for children ages 2 ½ – 8 years here.
From the Enrichment Experts at NY Kids Club:
Pamela Wolf founded the NY Kids Club and NY Preschool in September of 2001, which have grown to become the premiere enrichment centers for children two months to12 years. Ms. Wolf has been recognized as a Business Mentor of the Year, Best Entrepreneur, and one of the top female entrepreneurs of the year by Entrepreneur magazine. Ms. Wolf’s extensive business background and simultaneous experience as a mother of four have allowed the NY Kids Club to successfully expand to sixteen locations in New York and twelve in China. The company received INC 500/5000 list recognition in 2014. Of the several successful businesses Pamela Wolf has owned in New York, she is most proud of the NY Kids Club.