May 2016 - Looking for a Summer Camp? Choose Wisely

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This school year is almost over. Can you believe it? And, if you haven’t made arrangements for your child’s summer, now’s the time. For many, that means choosing a summer camp or camps.

Today, you can find a camp to meet almost any interest your child has – sports (including golf), theater, science, math, music – the list is endless. Of course, the most important factor is your child’s safety.

To find a camp that gives you peace of mind, avoid the red flags. Here are some considerations:

  • Meet the director and staff: Watch their interaction with other children. Are they attentive and caring or do they brush kids off? Red flag: someone who is too attentive or expresses inappropriate interest in your child.

  • Discuss policies: A trustworthy facility will have written policies on hiring, background checks (for staff and volunteers), one-on-one interactions, and discipline. Red flag: a facility unwilling to share those policies upon request.

  • Consider the staff-to-child ratio: National guidelines recommend a ratio of 1-to-8 for children age 5, increasing to 1-to-15 for teenagers. Red flag: over-enrollment.

  • Read reviews: Check the Better Business Bureau (https://www.bbb.org) to see if any complaints have been filed against the facility and, if so, the outcome. Talk to friends and neighbors whose children went there. Ask about counselor retention and percentage of returning campers. Red flag: a high turnover rate for either campers or counselors.

  • Look into training: Are all staff CPR and first aid certified? If a pool or other water is involved, what about lifeguards? Is a nurse or doctor on call? Red flag: insufficiently trained personnel.

  • Tour the facility: Look for a well-kept facility with sheltered areas for children to escape the sun or bad weather. Red flag: dirty facilities and broken equipment.

  • Explore transportation options: If field trips are on the agenda, ask how your child will be transported. Red flag: broken or missing seat belts and safety seats in transport vehicles.

These considerations can be applied to all childcare situations. Consider your options carefully. Wishing you and your family a fun – and safe – summer! – Victor Rotolo

As published in the May 2016 issue of the "Clinton Township Newsletter."
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