Tips for choosing the right camp

Students at the Champlain Discovery Kayak Adventure camp build a kayak, learn paddling and wilderness skills, and prepare themselves for the adventure of a lifetime.Photo courtesy of Lake Champlain Maritime Museum

Even with snow on the ground, summer camp approaches! Camp is an excellent expanded learning environment that provides children with the opportunity to connect with nature, participate in human-powered activities, and benefit from personal and primary relationships. Have you found the right camp for your child? Here are some tips on finding the right camp, getting ready for check-in, and dealing with homesickness.

Finding the Right Camp
Meet the camp director. If possible, meet in person, otherwise set up a time to talk on the phone and ask the following questions:

What is the camp’s philosophy and program emphasis? What is the camp director’s background? What training do counselors receive? What is the counselor-to-camper ratio? What are the ages of the counselors? How does the camp handle homesickness and other adjustment issues? It’s never too early to start this process and to ask these questions. Parents can go to and use the Find a Camp tool to find the best camp for their child.

Understanding the Importance of ACA Accreditation
Accreditation ensures that a camp has met up to 300 health and safety standards. It educates the camp owners and directors in the administration of key aspects of camp operation, program quality, and the health and safety of campers and staff. It establishes guidelines for needed policies, procedures, and practices for which the camp is responsible for ongoing implementation. It assists the public in selecting camps that meet industry-accepted and government-recognized standards. ACA’s Find a Camp database connects families with ACA-Accredited Camps that best suit their interests. Accreditation serves as public evidence of a camp’s commitment to the health, safety, and overall well-being of both campers and staff.

Getting Ready for Camp
Ask the camp about dress code and gear and specific items that should be left at home. Pack light and plan. Do your best to label everything. Most camps supply lists of recommended clothing and some include required uniforms. In general, camp gear should be comfortable and durable clothing for active days at camp.

Dealing with Homesickness
Discuss concerns. As camp gets nearer, talk to your child about how they’re feeling about camp and what they may expect. Communicate confidence in your child’s ability to be away from home.

Counselors, camp nurses, and camp directors all have been trained to deal with a homesick child. It is good for parents to understand how the counselor may deal with a homesick child prior to leaving the child at camp—what is protocol, and what are some tactics to make the child feel more comfortable?

Prepare for camp together. Decisions about camp, like what to pack, should be a joint venture. If your child feels a part of the decision-making process, his or her chances of having a positive experience will improve.

The American Camp Association® (ACA) is a national organization with more than 10,000 individual members and nearly 3,000 member camps. ACA is committed to collaborating with those who believe in quality camp and outdoor experiences for children, youth, and adults. ACA provides advocacy and evidence-based education and professional development, and is the only national accrediting body for the organized camp experience. ACA accredits approximately 2,400 diverse camps nationally. ACA-Accredited® Camps meet up to 300 health and safety standards. Accreditation provides public evidence of a camp’s commitment to the health, safety, and overall well-being of both campers and staff. For more information, visit

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