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BBB Tip: Finding a quality summer camp for kids

While there’s still a slight chill in the air, many families are already planning what their children will do over the summer. Summer camp is a great way for your kids to have new experiences and make friends in a safe environment.

Read more or listen to Better Business Bureau Regional Director Pamela Hernandez below:

That said, choosing a summer camp can be a source of anxiety for parents. After all, your child will be spending all day there, and possibly staying overnight. Not only do you want to choose a camp where your child will have fun and get to try new things, you also need to be able to trust the staff with their health and safety. There are a lot of options to choose from, and Better Business Bureau recommends reviewing them with the same level of care you might use in choosing a childcare provider.

The first and best way to ensure your child will have a good experience at camp is to ask them what activities they’re interested in. Do they like the outdoors and want to spend time camping, doing ropes courses or canoeing? Are they more interested in arts & crafts, or maybe a science or robotics camp? Weigh their interests and personality along with the structure and intensity of activities at the camp to determine if it might be a good fit.

It’s equally important to take the time to vet the camp for your child’s safety and comfort. BBB recommends parents always visit a camp, inspect the facilities and learn about the camp’s safety protocols before submitting any payments.

Here are some more tips to help your child have a safe, fun summer:

Check for accreditation. Look for trustworthy camps that are accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA) or by BBB. ACA accredited camps must meet 32 national summer camp standards, and BBB accredited businesses must meet the eight Standards for Trust. You can use to find camps near you, check for accreditation and read reviews.

Use references. It can be reassuring to have a recommendation from someone you know and trust. Ask friends and family for suggestions. You can also ask the camp if they have a list of past campers you can contact who are willing to give references.

Always visit the camp before paying. Check the location of the camp and view the living, eating and recreational facilities.

Take the opportunity to meet the staff.Know the required safety standards. Individual states will have their own health and safety guidelines for summer camps, and all will follow CDC recommendations. Ask about the camp’s safety standards, particularly for water activities, archery and out-of-camp trips.

Learn about medical facilities and emergency procedures. Ask how you will be contacted in case of an emergency and what medical resources the camp has on-site. Some camps have specific processes for children who need daily medication, so be sure to find out how the camp can accommodate your child’s specific needs.

Ask about family visits and communication. It’s important to know when you can contact your child and how the staff handle homesickness.

Look into the camp director and staff’s background. Ask how the staff are trained, if background checks are conducted and what the ratio of campers to staff is.

Ask about the camper and counselor return rate. It’s a good sign if campers and counselors alike are excited to return to the camp year after year.

Review contracts, fees and deadlines. It’s good practice to carefully review contracts before you sign them. Make sure you understand the total cost, whether there are any additional fees and what the refund policy is before signing.

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