Keep your child and yourself a happy camper this summer

May 16, 2014

Summer is just around the corner and now is the time to start planning your summertime activities.According to the American Camp Association, there are more than 12,000 day and resident camps nationwide. When looking for the appropriate one for your child, Better Business Bureau recommends parents do their research to ensure they find a camp that is both financially fit for their pocketbook and fundamentally right for their child.

Of all the complaints BBB received in 2013 against summer camps, most alleged refund issues, including camps’ failures to respond to notices of cancellation. This resulted in unauthorized credit card charges. Other complaints alleged cancellation of camp programs due to low registration.

Parents have a variety of choices dependent on their child’s age and interests. In addition to checking with BBB to see a camp’s BBB Business Review or to find a BBB Accredited camp, BBB offers the following tips for parents searching for the right camp:

  • Get references. Ask parents of other campers about their child’s experience and why they recommend one camp over another. According to the American Camp Association, there is no government oversight of camps, so it’s especially important to look for facilities that are certified by the ACA. The organization requires camps to meet up to 300 nationally recognized standards. 
  • Visit the camp in person. Check all living, eating and recreational facilities. Be sure to ask about safety procedures and how rules are enforced. 
  • Assess the quality and commitment of the staff. Find out the camp director’s background, the criteria used for hiring staff and whether certification in CPR and First Aid is required. It is also important to know the ratio of staff to campers. Parents sending children to specialty camps should inquire about the staff’s level of expertise in the specialized area. 
  • Know the fees and payment policies. What is the total cost of tuition? Is your money refundable should the camp be canceled? Are there extra charges for any activities? Are meals and transportation included? Make sure all these details are included in your contract.
  • Ask about medical care. Check out the medical facilities to be sure they are adequate. Find out if a nurse or doctor is on-site. Inquire about the procedures for transporting injured or sick children to nearby medical facilities and under what circumstances you will be notified of any problems. 
  • Consider a backup plan.  In case the camp you choose gets canceled for unexpected reasons, be sure to have another camp or two in mind. It is ideal to also visit and research those backup camps in advance so that you can be well-informed in the event of a last-minute decision