Checklist: Questions to Ask When Evaluating Summer Camps

By Erica Patino

Some summer camps have more experience than others when it comes to kids with learning and thinking differences. That’s why it’s important to find out in advance whether a camp is willing to accommodate your child and, if so, how it plans to meet your child’s needs. Here are some questions you may want to ask before signing up.

Questions to Ask When Choosing a Summer Camp

  • What type of child is successful at this camp? Will a child who doesn’t like competitive sports fit in? How about a child who is a bundle of constant energy?

  • Do you interview campers? Do you take anyone, or are you more selective?

  • How many kids attend each year? How many leave before camp ends? What are some of the reasons for early departures?

  • Is your camp accredited by the American Camp Association?

  • Do you have experience with campers who have my child’s type of learning and thinking differences?

  • Is the schedule highly structured, or do kids have a lot of free choice? What is the balance between indoor and outdoor activities? What does a rainy day schedule look like?

  • Do campers go on field trips? To where? How are they supervised?

  • What accommodations can I expect the camp to make for my child’s needs?

  • If I provide strategies that have helped my child deal with learning and thinking differences at home or at school, will your staff use them?

  • How does your staff deal with behavior issues? How are kids disciplined?

  • What does your staff do if they see a child being picked on or excluded?

  • What is the staff-to-camper ratio?

  • Who can my child talk to if there’s a problem with a counselor or with another child?

  • Is there a nurse or someone else on staff to administer medication if needed? Is this done in a confidential way?

  • What kind of training is required for your staff? Are your counselors Red Cross certified?

  • Have there ever been any serious accidents at your camp? If so, how did the staff handle this?

  • Did you fire any camp counselors last year? If so, why?

  • Are there opportunities for parents to volunteer at camp?

  • Can parents observe their child during the camp day?

  • Can you put me in touch with parents of kids who like this camp? Can you put me in touch with the parent of a child for whom the camp wasn’t a good fit? Can you put me in touch with any parents of campers who have learning and thinking differences?

Understanding the range of options for summer camp can help you find the right fit for your child. There are also some key questions that can help you decide whether your child is ready for sleepaway camp. Once you choose a camp, get tips on how to prepare your child.