Are you mad at me for reminding you about summer so early? Ahh, summer. For my family, this means waiting thirty minutes after hot dogs to do any sort of activity, desperately searching for quarters under the car seats when we finally find parking at the beach, and forcibly taking sunscreen baths by dad-the-sun-police. Since you are probably just getting started (ie you just read this post) here are a few first steps.
Ask Your Kids
I actually hate it when my parents do research on something for me before even asking me about it. Maybe your kid already has an idea of what he/she wants to do? Maybe they know what they really don’t want to do? (My dad seriously forced me go to sports camp like three years in a row to get me more athletic…ya, it didn’t work.)
Ask For References
Instead of starting with an online database, (yes, like the ones I suggest below) ask your most trusted sources first. My school always has a list of good summer camps where a lot of their students go and parents have recommended. Also sometimes the school knows people at the camp–always good to have a few highly placed contacts in the camp hierarchy when you need to sneak your kids their favorite candy bars–I really did not do well at Sports Camp. You should also ask your friends and your kid’s friend’s parents for their ideas. (There is always that one mother who did her research over Thanksgiving break and has a color-coded spreadsheet with the best and most cost-effective camps–go find her!)
Consider Your Options
If you have no friends and your child is home-schooled and you cannot track down that mother, then try looking at a few camp resources.
-ACA database has an accredited camps listed.
–My Summer Camps.com is pretty good and divides up programs and camp by theme (what is the word for this, like music, cheerleading, soccer etc)
-Here is a database for teen camps and programs.
*Also for parents of teens be sure to consider more educational activities. There was a recent article in the NY Times about educational and activity based programs.
Go Do Research
-Go to a summer camp fair or expo at local convention centers! These are great because you can walk around with kids and talk to actual people from the camps (and make sure they are not creepy/smelly/weird).
-I also remember going to open houses at the camps we were considering. I am sort of an anxious person and was a worry-wart of a teen, so seeing the camps firsthand and knowing exactly what the bathroom situation would be like, not only helped me choose my final destination, but also helped me plan better.
Post any additional comments below!