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A Crash Course in Camps


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There are (almost) countless ways for your kids to spend their dog days of summer. Arts camps, science camps, outdoors camps, volleyball camps, Renaissance-adventure camp. The list goes on and on…and on. But how does one choose? Betsy Strohmaier, director of Altogether Outdoors & Mountain Day Camp, and David Secunda, Avid4 Adventure program director, help you find out. First, give the camp director a call and ask some questions:

1. Is this camp accredited by the American Camp Association? Those with American Camp Association Accreditation comply with standards as assessed by outside reviewers. Visit acarockymountain.org or campparents.org.

2. Is this camp licensed by the State of Colorado Department of Child Services? Licensing is required for camp programs with school-aged children by the State of Colorado Department of Human Services. Childcare licensing mandates that camps meet specific guidelines. If a camp is not licensed, why?

3. What is the counselor-to-child ratio? The ratio of staff to campers tells you how much individual attention your child will receive at camp. Ask the director if their ratios include just counseling staff or if they also include support staff that doesn’t work directly with campers. Find out if it changes during more specialized programming, such as aquatic activities and rock climbing.

4. What is the background of counselors and are they background checked? Are the counselors just there for a summer job, or are they dedicated to the fields of recreation, education or child development?

5. How are the counselors trained? Quality camps have at least a three- to five-day training program that invests in staff and gives them tools to create successful experiences.

6. What is the median age of counselors? Mature counselors make a difference in camp program quality and the manner in which campers are treated. They are also less impulsive in their judgment. If counselors are under 18, ask how they are supervised.

7. Does the camp have a crisis management or rainy day plan? Crisis management plans are required at schools, so they should be in effect at camps too. It also rains during summers and herding an entire camp indoors without backup activities can be challenging.

8. What is the group’s practice for nutrition and hydration? Additionally, camps should have a morning snack, lunch and an afternoon snack if camp goes late. Also ask about hand washing procedures.

9. How does the camp handle special needs? This is a great question to ask for any camper. Listen for compassionate answers that involve individualized plans for each camper. Every camper has a special need at some time (nutrition, attention, hydration, rest, etc.) and an environment where staff are already focused on camper needs will help all campers.

10. How are medications transported, stored and administered? Legally, a nurse must give staff the authority for administering medications. Ask specifically about training, delegation and procedures.

Want more info?
David Secunda, Avid4 Adventure Program Director, david@avid4.com, avid4.com
(Boulder area day and overnight camps)
Betsy Strohmaier, Mountain Day Camp Director, betsy@mountaindaycamp.com, mountaindaycamp.com (Boulder area day camps throughout the summer)

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email no info send march17th/09
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