Questions To Ask When Visiting Potential Sleepaway Camps

What parents should really be focused on when touring camps.

boys in sleep away camp bunk

If you are thinking about sending your child to sleepaway camp next summer, this summer is the time to visit camps you are considering. Visiting sleepaway camps is similar to visiting colleges before you make your final decision. It is important that your child feels ready to go away for the summer and that both you and your child feel comfortable with the decision. 

I spoke with a tour guide at Camp Wah-Nee, the sleepaway camp I attended.

She let me in on what parents should and should not be focused on during a sleepaway camp tour.

Questions that parents often ask:

  • what is the schedule for the day?
  • can my child play a particular sports/activity more often than other activities?
  • how often can my child make phone calls?
  • can I sent my child packages/
  • how many counselors in a bunk/division?
  • how many children in a bunk/division?
  • at what age do most children start going to camp?
  • what happens if my child does not make the team? what other opportunities will he/she have to participate in the given activity?
  • are showers and bathrooms available in the bunks?
  • will my child swim in a lake or a pool?
  • are there religious services and, if yes, are they mandatory?
  • What additional charges are there?
  • what is the medical staff on camp?

Questions that parents should ask:

  • how do you handle allergy/food accommodations?
  • how do you handle particular special needs (physical, emotional, disciplinary)?
  • do you offer tutoring (i.e., Bar/Bat Mitzvah, English As A Second Language (ESL), etc.). 
  • how to you make children feel safe emotionally?
  • how can my child be exposed to new things, gain new interests?

What parents should not ask:

Parents are often concerned with the "bells and whistles", newest facilities and other amenities that a camp offers.

 Children are being molded during adolescence (when most attend camps) and it is important to foster a healthy foundation that they can develop self esteem and learn how to treat each other. Parents seem to be less concerned with the values that a camp offers and more concerned about "keeping up with the Jones'". Parents often want to be in control of their child's likes and dislikes which hinder individual growth. Parents should be be less concerned about what bunk their child is in and more interested in promoting a healthy attitude about making new friends.

Use American Camp Association's "Find a Camp" to decide which sleepaway camps you will be visiting this summer.

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