Get to know camp directors as people through phone conversations, e-mails and a personal visit. Have the director describe the camp’s philosophy and how the staff implements it.
What’s the camp director’s background? American Camp Association (ACA) minimum standards recommend directors possess a bachelor’s degree, have completed in-service training within the past three years, and have at least sixteen weeks of camp administrative experience before assuming the responsibilities of director.
What about references? This is generally one of the best ways to check a camp’s reputation and service record. Directors should be happy to provide references.
What’s the camp’s philosophy and emphasis? Each camp has its own method of constructing programs based on its philosophy. Does it complement your own parenting philosophy?
What training do counselors receive? At a minimum, camp staff should be trained in safety regulations, emergency procedures and communication, behavior management techniques, child abuse prevention, appropriate staff and camper behavior, and specific procedures for supervision.
What’s the counselor-to-camper ratio? ACA standards require different ratios for varying ages and special needs.
What about special needs? If your child has special requirements, ask the camp director about needed provisions and facilities.
What are the ages of the counselors? ACA standards recommend that 80 percent or more of the counseling/program staff be at least 18 years old. Staff must be at least 16 years old and be at least two years older than the campers with whom they work.
What percentage of the counselors return each year? Most camps have from 40 – 60 percent returning staff. If the rate is lower, find out why.
How are behavior problems handled? This is where the director’s philosophy comes through loud and clear. Positive reinforcement, assertive role modeling and a sense of fair play are generally regarded as key components of camp counseling and leadership.
How does the camp handle homesickness? Again, the camp’s philosophy on helping children adjust is important. Be sure you are comfortable with the camp’s guidelines on parent/child contact.