It’s that time of year when the weather is warming up, the kids are getting restless waiting for school to let out for the summer, and parents are looking into summer camp options.  Is your child really ready for summer camp?  Once you make that decision, how do you choose?  The first and obvious question to answer is: What are my child’s interests?  Does he enjoy science, art, music, dance, one or more sports?  There are many types of camps out there, so you can first narrow down the list of camps to those that feature activities that your child enjoys.  But what else should you look for?  Here are some tips on finding the right fit for your child.

 Find out about the camp’s hours and schedule.  A four year old may be overwhelmed by a full day camp with too many activities packed in. A morning or afternoon half day program is more suitable for preschool children.  If parents need a full day program because they work, check to make sure that there is down time or nap time in the schedule so you’re not picking up an exhausted child.Shy children are often not big fans of camp because it’s such an effort to make new friends and get to know new teachers.  Elementary aged children often benefit by attending camp with a friend or neighbor.  It also makes for easier car pooling.

Sleep away camp should be given very careful consideration before investing.  Is your child emotionally ready to be away from home for a week or two at a time?  I’ve seen many miserable kids and parents when the child isn’t ready to attend and becomes severely homesick.  On the other hand, I’ve seen more independent children blossom and come into their own when they are given the opportunity to attend sleep away camp.Research the history, backgrounds and qualifications of the camp and staff to make sure that you are enrolling your child in a safe, structured camp with competent counselors. Check out the ratio of campers to staff and the camps plan in case of emergencies.  And ask around, other parents and current care providers are often a good unbiased source of information.  If you haven’t chosen yet, take your time but hurry up.  Some of the good camps fill up early.  Summer is just around the corner and the time to find the right camp is now.