By Jerri Stroud, BBB Editor
Winter weather is far from over, but summer isn’t that far away. Smart parents already are lining up summer camps for their children.
Better Business Bureau urges parents to look beyond glossy brochures to be sure that a camp puts children’s safety first while offering programs that children will enjoy. Make sure to check a camp’s programs and its procedures for handling emergencies.
The following tips can help parents find safe, enjoyable camps for their children:
- Always visit the camp before submitting your deposit. Check its location and view the living, eating and recreational facilities. Ask about safety procedures (particularly for water activities, archery and out-of-camp trips), and assess the quality and commitment of the staff.
- Ask about fees and payment deadlines. Is your deposit refundable? Are there extra charges for any activities? Are meals and transportation offered?
- What is the camper return rate? The counselor return rate?
- What is the camp director’s background? How is the staff trained? Are criminal checks made for employees and volunteers? What is the ratio of campers to staff members?
- Are medical facilities adequate? Is a nurse or doctor on site? What are the procedures for transporting injured or sick children to medical facilities? Are those facilities nearby?
- What are the safety rules and how are they enforced? Does the camp have appropriate insurance coverage?
- Are family visits or other communications with campers allowed? How is homesickness handled?
- Are references from parents of repeat campers available? Ask the parents about their child’s experience and why they recommend the camp.
- Finally, look for camps that are certified by the American Camp Association. ACA-accredited camps have met up to 300 nationally recognized standards.