There is no shortage of summer camps in North America, they are even part of the culture. The concept of an American-style summer camp is still new in South Africa and thus it is important for parents to ask the right questions when choosing a camp for their kids. Parents should be searching for a camp that prioritises safety, educational and personal development, in a safe and fun environment.
To find a reliable and responsible camp it is necessary to ask the right questions. It’s best to begin with the basics such as; how long the camp has been running and what licenses the camp holds, etcetera. However, to properly judge their credibility and suitability for your child, you will have to ask questions that go beyond these basics.
Here are10 Questions to ask when booking a camp for your kids:
1.What is the camp’s philosophy?
As a parent, you need to be comfortable with the camp’s philosophy as your children will be guided by the camp’s philosophy during their stay.
2. How does the camp train and recruit its staff?
You need to find out how the camp counsellors are trained and if the camp recruits them based on experience and merit. It’s always better to know that in the case of an emergency, your children will be in the care of people who are at least trained in emergency first response.
3. What is the return rates of campers and counsellors?
According to the American Camping Association (ACA), who stipulate the camp industry’s standards, a 40 – 60 percent return rate is a good indication that the camp is reputable. It’s reassuring to know that half or more of the children return after their first visit, and also makes it more likely that your children will enjoy the camp and want to return too.
4. What is the ratio of campers to counsellors (a.k.a supervisors)?
The American Camping Association guidelines for overnight camps call for a 1:6 ratio for ages 7 and 8, 1:8 for ages 9-14; and 1:10 for ages 15-18. Day camp guidelines call for 1:8 for children ages 6-8; 1:10 for children ages 9-14; and 1:12 for ages 15-18.
A camp that can offer quality supervision is better than a camp that only offers full-time supervision. It’s easy to claim to offer full-time supervision, as a camp can have one counsellor looking after thirty children all day. However, if a camp offers quality supervision by allocating one counsellor to supervise only three children, you can be assured that your child is getting the full attention they need and will not be neglected.
5. How old are the counsellors?
The American Camping Association recommends that 80 percent of the staff be between 18 and 35 years old, and a minimum of two years older than the campers they supervise.
6. How equipped is the camp for basic medical care and serious emergencies?
The American Camping Association recommends that overnight camps should have a licensed physician or registered nurse on the site every day. There need to be medical staff working at the camp and backup facilities nearby. Should your child require medication, have food allergies or a chronic medical condition; you need to be reassured that the camp will be able to handle their needs.
7. What is the camp’s approach to discipline?
The camp’s practices need to be in line with your parenting principles. In the case of a conflict between campers, you need to know that the camp handles these situations carefully. Find out what the camp’s rules are and what breaches would result in a camper being sent home. It’s important to discuss the rules and regulations with your child so they can adjust where necessary before they arrive. It is also a good idea to enquire about how the camp deals with bullying.
8. What does a typical daily schedule look like?
There needs to be a balance between the level of physical and social activities held at camp. If your child favours one activity over another, it would be great to know that they could participate in this particular activity more than once, should they want to. Camps that offer a free choice of activities are definitely the better option for your child to be able to participate in activities of their preference, instead of being forced to participate in a compulsory daily program.
9. How reliable is the camp’s transport?
If the kids need to be transported to different venues to and from camp, you need to be certain that their transport is reliable and safe. Enquire about who drives these vehicles and what qualifications these drivers have in order to be responsible for the transportation of campers.
10. Ask for references
You need to find out about other camper’s experiences. Ask the camp for the links to their social media channels like Facebook and Google Plus. These social media channels allow people to publish reviews about the establishment which you can then read. This will give you a good idea about what other people are saying about the camp, and whether or not they are up to your standards. Alternatively, you could request quotes from past campers and the camp should willingly share this information with you. A camp that’s comfortable and proud of their practices will not refuse to share this information with you.
These are definitely the top 10 questions to ask when booking a camp for your kids in order to attain the best camping experience and ensure happy campers.
Give Sugar Bay camp a call on 032 485 3778 and we’ll happily answer these questions for you! Or you could head over to our website and read our Parent FAQs. And when you’re satisfied with our answers, you can easily book your camp online.