Questions to ask before you select a summer camp for your child

You are probably as excited as your kid about the prospect of them going to a summer camp. While summer camp can be fun, there can also be potential dangers. You must affirm that all safety measures are in place before you send your kids to a summer camp. Here is a check off list that you must consider.

The summer holidays are a great way for children to learn new skills and at the same time have fun, at summer camps. Parents are generally as euphoric as their kids at the thought of the latter joining summer camps. It is incredible how our children's enthusiasm rubs off on us, their parents. This is perhaps what parenthood does. Right!

Parenthood brings with it a number of responsibilities as well. And the foremost at this juncture should be to select the right summer camp for your child. By right, I do not mean in terms of the lessons on offer, but a little more than that.

These pointers should help you make the right choices. So, let's get started.

Is you kid ready?

Is your kid as eager as you are about the summer camp that you are enrolling in him? Be sure to have your child's consent, because the activity needs to be something the child can enjoy. Summer camps do not have to be forced on a child.

What if you think your child should be taking lessons in kalaripayattu, the martial art form from Kerala, but he is keen on guitar lessons. It wouldn't be a good idea to force him, for he is going to end up hating it, and you, for forcing him. Instead, show him how much fun it can be. Let him watch some videos and read up on its history. Ask the coaching centre if they'd allow you to watch a session in progress. These will help grab your child's attention.

Alternatively, and if time permits and if it is affordable, let him take lessons in both. Make an agreement that he can quit the martial art class if he still doesn't like it after the training term.

Do not push your child into learning things that he is fearful of. You don't have to push your child into the pool to get him out of his fear of water. Push your child to an extent which he can handle. Do not lead him through your aspirations – let him find his own path.

What is the camp about?

With a plethora of options available you must be at your confused best. Which summer camp(s) should you consider?

  • Academic camps such as Vedic Maths
  • Skill camps that teach skills like photography
  • Hobby classes such as painting or calligraphy
  • Music camps for vocal and instrumental music
  • Sports camp for basketball, cricket, tennis and football etcetera
  • Nature camps where your child attends gardening workshops
  • Activity camps
  • Swimming camp
  • Drama and theatre
  • Public speaking

Keep your child's interest in mind and also his abilities. Vedic maths will help him improve his academic performance and boost his confidence. Theatre and drama workshop can help remove stage fright. Your child will learn something new, no matter which camp he joins. He will also learn to interact with people. Discuss the available options with your child and pick the one that you and the kid agree to.

Know the organisers

Check the credentials of the people running the camp. What kind of experience do they have? Have they conducted such classes before?

It is best to ask these questions up front, so you are not disappointed midway, or at the end of the schedule. The instructors must have detailed knowledge on the subject. They should also have experience working with children.

Ask for detailed list of what the summer camp will cover

I know it's just a summer camp, but you still need to know what your child can learn from it. For instance, if it is a lesson on instrumental music – will your child be taught just the basic notes or will he be able to play some music? Will he be taught to read music? Similarly, if it's a swimming camp - will the child be taught just freestyle or other strokes as well?

It is always good to have the expectations spelt out to you, so there is no reason to crib after the event is over. On your part, do not set your expectations too high. Remember, it is a summer camp after all – your children will need years of guidance and practice before they can master whatever it is that they are learning. These coaching sessions act as precursors; they ignite an interest in the child.

Is it worth the money?

How do you gauge that? While there is no sure shot formula that can help you find an answer, but these following might help –

  • What is the fee structure? Is it too high? Are there equally good and cheaper options available?
  • What is the duration of the camp? How many classes per week/month? How many hours a day? Does the time commensurate with the fee?
  • How many students per session? Is the class packed to capacity? Will your child get individual attention? Five students per class may warrant a high fee, but if it's a batch of twenty to thirty students then the fee should be much lower?
  • Is it a specialised skill? A highly qualified and skilled instructor will charge high fees
  • Will there be a performance after the event? A music or dance teacher might organise a programme where the class performs for an audience of mostly parents, siblings and grandparents
  • How is the venue? If it is a hired, air conditioned venue, you'll need to pay a high fee, while if the classes are conducted on a terrace or in someone's home the fee should be lower

Is the environment safe?

  • Are the premises secure? There should be no low walls, no grill-less windows, no open pools etcetera
  • Is there security? Does the camp area have reliable security? Will someone watch over your child if you are late in picking him up? Ask for the antecedents of the helpers. You do not want to be the victim of untoward incidents
  • Is the vicinity safe? In case your child is going to be travelling alone
  • Are female helpers present? You need to check this if you have a girl child
  • Does the place have basic amenities? Toilets, drinking water, a place to change etcetera

Check testimonials

Speak to parents whose children attended previous camps. Get their views. Check with the instructors if you can sit through a class before you decide to enrol your child. This will allow you an opportunity to gauge the standard of the programme on offer.

Child safety measures

Is there a doctor on call or a registered nurse available on site? This aspect is especially important if the camp involves physical activities where the chances of injury are high. There should be a clinic or a hospital near the venue.

These are but basic guidelines. You might need to dig a little deeper and get answers to all your doubts and worries. At the end of the day, you should be assured that your child is in safe hands and that he enjoys what he is doing. The summer camp you choose should prove to be a learning experience for your child.


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