While compiling the Messengers annual Summer Camp section, we received a press release from a website that devotes itself solely to what to do with the kids year round (whattodowiththekids.com). The site offers Special Reports on camps: The Top 12 Things Parents Should Know When Choosing a Summer Camp and The Top 14 Things to Prepare You and Your Kid for Summer Camp.
Founder of whattodowiththekids.com, Brian Presley, consulted with his staff, as well as with former and current camp directors, program directors, counselors and campers to create these reports.
Before we list the camps for this year, here are 12 things parents should know when choosing a summer camp.
1. Which camp is right for your kid?
Day Camp the kid attends for a set time only
Residential Camp the kid stays overnight
General traditional camp program with a selection of programs and activities
Specialized dedicated to a sport such as basketball or to an activity such as computers
Length of camp session? (One day, one week, two weeks, etc.) Will it fit in your budget?
2. Visit the camp:
Is there an open house you can attend?
Location? (How far from your home is it?)
Check out the landscape. (Does it look safe or like a tornado just hit it?)
Anything next door or nearby of a concern? (Factory, dump, bar, etc.)
Is the waterfront clean and the water safe? (Is the public allowed in the area? Is the water tested regularly?)
Meet the staff.
Sleeping Quarters (Cabins or tents? Type of beds?)
Washroom (Flush toilets and running water? Are showers available?)
Dining Room & Kitchen (Are they clean?)
Buildings (Well-kept or ready to fall down?)
4. Discover the camps history:
Who owns and operates the camp?
How long have they been in the camp business?
Any bad history? (Closures for any reason; fatalities?)
What accreditations do they have? (Member of any qualified organizations?)
Can they provide references? (Actual parents you can contact?)
5. What does the camp fee include?
Are there any hidden or additional fees? (Special equipment, clothing, etc. to purchase?)
Is their financial assistance available? (Dont be afraid to ask)
Is there pre and post camp supervision available? (For Day Camps: can you drop them off early and pick them up later? Is there an additional fee?)
6. Emergency and Medical Care:
Nurse on staff or nearby? (Located on site or nearby and availability)
Doctor on staff or nearby? (Located on site or nearby and availability)
Does the staff have first aid and/or emergency training? (What level and from which organization?)
Are first aid/CPR kits available throughout?
What is the procedure if your kid becomes ill or is injured?
How is medicine dispensed, when and by whom?
7. Daily Schedule and Program:
How long are the programs? (What is the daily schedule?)
Is their sufficient rest/quiet time?
Is their sufficient free time?
For Residential Camps: Wake up and Lights out?
Are all equipment and supplies included?
8. Activities Available:
For Specialized Camps: are there other activities available? (Example: At computer camp, is their time to play games or go for a swim?)
Do the kids have activity choices? (What kind of activity choices do they have?)
How many lifeguards are posted?
What is the minimum qualification for the lifeguards?
Do they have emergency procedures in place? (First aid kit, spinal board, motorized boat?)
What condition is the equipment in? (Boats, canoes, sail boats, life jackets, docks etc.)
10. Special Attention & Needs:
Accessible for physical disabilities? (Ramps, railings, equipment, etc.)
For Residential Camps: Bed Wetting and Sleep Walking? (How is this situation handled?)
Are all meals provided? (For Day Camps: Do the kids bring a lunch or do they have to purchase their meals?)
What is the condition of the kitchen/food preparation area? (Has it passed the local health inspection standards; Proper food storage such as refrigerators; Proper food preparation equipment such as stoves?)
Is there a sample menu to view? (Is it nutritional balanced? Has it been approved by a qualified dietician?)
Can special diets be accommodated? (Diabetic, allergies, Kosher, lactose intolerant, peanut allergies, etc.)
Kitchen staff experience and training? (Are they aware and follow proper food preparation methods and standards?)
Is a snack available? (Is it available or can the camper bring their own?)
12.Counselors and Staff
Age, experience, qualifications? (Adults or teenagers and their experience and qualifications)
Training? (What type do they receive?)
Ratio of Counselors to Kids? (The closer the ratio the better)
Police or Security check? (If not, why not?)
What To Do With The Kids features games, crafts, special events, party ideas and downloads, including activity sheets, birthday cards, party invitations, personalized awards and other WTDWTK Special Reports. Unlike other similar websites, the content is original.
The website also features a What To Do With The Kids in directory for kid and family friendly places to go. The Market Place section features products and services that you wont find in the big box stores.
Cal Lutheran iD Tech Camps is a summer STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) camp that lasts more than the summer; it has made an impact on thousands of childrens lives.
Held at Cal Lutheran, students learn firsthand how their hobbies can turn into potential careers. Ages 7-17 create iPhone apps, robots, video games, websites, C++ and Java programs, 3D animations, movies and more.
iD Tech Camps provide summer technology programs where youth engage in STEM education, and complete a project by the end of the week.
These weeklong, day and overnight programs are located at 60 universities nationwide, which includes Cal Lutheran, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara, Stanford, Princeton, Emory, and others.
There are also three iD Teen Academies with two-week immersive, pre-college sessions for ages 13-18 where they build portfolios and meet with industry professionals. These include iD Gaming Academy, iD Programming Academy (held at UCLA), and iD Visual Arts Academy (photography and filmmaking).
Dance in Motion Summer Camp: Each morning students will take a dance technique class in ballet, jazz, hip hop, salsa, break dancing and cheerleading, followed by story time, snack, dance video and creative craft activities. All students receive a dance scrapbook. Afternoons offer workshops in musical theater. A lounge area is provided for parents to view their childs class on closed circuit television.
Dance In Motion has two large studios at 22017 Vanowen St., Canoga Park, CA 91303 and 22776 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills, CA 91364. For more information: (818) 222-2085; danceinmotion.net.
Mountains Restoration Trust: Registration is now open for the 2012 summer sessions of Mountains Restoration Trust (MRT) Nature Discovery Camp.
Nature Discovery Camp opens up new areas of interest for children and connects them to the healthy outdoors in fun and protected surroundings, said Youth Naturalist Program Director Susan Haugland.
Discovery Nature Camp is designed for ages 8 12 years and is held in two sessions, Monday - Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Session 1: July 16 20, covers Reptiles and Amphibians, Birds, Endangered Species, Native Americans and a Field Trip to Malibu Lagoon.