Wise parents are already searching for summer camps that will keep their children safely occupied when school is out. Many camps in Georgia are not regulated in specific areas according to the American Camp Association.
Better Business Bureau recommends parents carefully choose a summer camp that is safe and will keep your youngster entertained and involved.
Young people are drawn to a variety of special interest camps, including computers, gymnastics, lacrosse, engineering, music dance or more.
Summer camp is not as standardized as it used to be. While many young people opt for the traditional menu of sports, gymnastics and related activities, there is an impressive list of camps dedicated to individual campers' tastes. Your child can be part of the research process by helping guide your selection.
Regardless of whatever camp you choose, the most important elements to consider are that its facilities are safe, well-run and properly maintained, with well-trained staff to take care of your child. Before signing a contract for a summer camp, you should be familiar with staff, activities and management of emergencies.
The first place to start after you decide on a prospective camp is to check it out at bbb.org to learn about others' experiences and any complaints, or to look for a BBB-accredited camp. BBB also recommends verifying whether the camp is a member of the American Camp Association (ACA), and meets its 32 mandatory national summer camp standards.
BBB provides the following tips to help you make the best decision:
Visit the camp before making a decision - Check its location and view the living, eating and recreational facilities. Be sure to ask about safety procedures, particularly for water activities, archery and out-of-camp trips.
Assess the quality and commitment of the staff - Find out the camp director's background, as well as the criteria used for hiring staff. 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 specific area.
Know the fees - What is the total cost for the summer? Is your deposit refundable? Are there extra charges for any activities? Are meals and transportation included? Is financial aid available?
Understand the safety rules - Find out what the rules are and how they are enforced. Ask about the camp's insurance coverage. Check the condition and safety of the facilities and equipment. Note any dangerous areas, like cliffs, swamps or water zones.
Ask about the 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.
Be familiar with the camp philosophy - Know what the camps' goals are and how each program offered meets those goals. Are family visits or other communication with campers allowed? How is homesickness handled?
See a typical daily schedule - Note the camp hours, the variety of activities that are planned, the age range of the campers, what type of food is served, the pace of the day and any transportation that is involved.
Get references - Ask parents of repeat campers about their child's experience and why they recommend the camp. Find out the camper return rate as well as the counselor return rate.
You will find additional consumer tips and more at bbb.org/atlanta.