Child Adventure

How to Choose a Summer Camp Your Kids Will Love and That You Approve.

Article by Kimberly Blaker

Photography by Matthew Clatch

Originally published in SW Lake Lifestyle

Whether you're looking for enrichment for your child, a way to keep your kids supervised while you work, or just a short reprieve from daytime parenting, there's sure to be a summer camp that's the right fit for your family.

Summer Camp Benefits

Summer camp offers kids plenty of benefits, and many kids thrill at the idea of going away to summer camp. For some kids not ready for a sleepover camp, particularly those who are shy, introverted, or homebodies, the thought of separation from the family can cause considerable anxiety. For any child willing to give it a shot, attending a summertime day camp offers opportunities kids may not have elsewhere. A summer day camp provides kids with benefits that help them:

  • Foster independence
  • Develop new friendships
  • Learn new skills
  • Discover new interests
  • Express creativity
  • Unplug from devices or being online
  • Get more exercise
  • Improve self-esteem
  • Minimize summer learning loss

Start a Search

Before you begin looking into summer camps, create a list of the criteria you're looking for, such as budget, purpose of camp, duration, proximity and your child’s interests. Once you've narrowed down your criteria, start looking. Local media (such as SW Lake), parenting blogs, asking friends, or searching online can all help. The American Camp Association (ACA) accredits summer camps that comply with health, safety, and programming criteria.

Once your list is narrowed to a manageable selection, you'll want to investigate the camps further to learn about the following:

Health Issues: If you feel your child is at risk health-wise, consider a camp that offers virtual programs so kids can benefit from summer camp without the risk of contracting and spreading ailments like strep throat, COVID-19 or RSV. Virtual summer camps range from a couple of hours a day to all-day camps offering a broad range of virtual activities led by counselors.

Staff Qualifications: Many camps use teens as staff. Teens make excellent mentors and can bring liveliness to summer camp programs. The programs themselves, however, should be developed by professionals who have the knowledge to ensure kids are getting the most from the experience.

Safety Protocols: Find out what kind of safety training the camp provides its staffers, and whether there is always staff on hand who know basic first aid and CPR. What are the camp's procedures in the event your child becomes ill, has an accident, or there’s an emergency?

Daily Schedule: Ask for a daily itinerary, including meal and snack offerings, so you know your child will be getting everything you anticipate from the program.

Figure Out Commuting: Time spent driving to and from camp can be a drain on both parents and children. Summer day camps that offer busing options are a great feature to look for. 

Don't Sweat It

Keep in mind that, although there are many great camps, no one camp is likely to offer everything precisely the way you want it. Choose the one that best fits your child and satisfies your most important criteria. Remember, your child will have many summers to come and plenty more opportunities to have more good times at summer camp.

Kimberly Blaker is a regular contributor to SW Lake. Photos provided by Matthew Clatch of Good Times Summer Day Camp (; 847.680.4884).

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