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With summer fast approaching, parents are already looking for camps to fill their children’s days. Camps are a fun and exciting way to keep the kids occupied during the long days of summer. But how do parents know if a summer camp is right for their child? We asked the experts what to look for in a summer camp.

Lindsey Watley is the program director for Camp Clemson, the City of Clemson Parks and Recreation Department’s summer day camp. Lauren Pace is the outdoor program manager for Girl Scouts of South Carolina Mountains to Midlands. Here are their tips for what to look for when choosing a summer camp.

·      Content. What kind of camp is it and will it hold your child’s interest? Is the camp structured and does it offer a variety of activities that will engage your child? Can your child pick and choose activities or do they have to attend every portion of the day?

·      Child-to-Staff ratios. Watley said it is important to know how many children are assigned to a counselor and if counselors are paired up or on their own. The American Camping Association has guidelines for camp ratios, so be sure your chosen camp follows that. Lower ratios are best.

·      Certified Safety Procedures. You want to know that your child will be safe at camp. Pace said it is vital to know what kind of training the staff has undergone and if they are equipped to handle everything from allergies to bullies. Be sure all staff are first aid and CPR certified. Don’t be afraid to ask what kind of vetting a program does before hiring camp staff.

·      Code of Conduct. A lot of camps require both staff and campers to agree to a code of conduct. Girl Scout camps ask girls to sign an agreement saying they will follow rules, not be disruptive, and abide by the Girl Scout Law while at camp. These codes of conduct aim to ensure that everyone at camp will have a positive experience and stay safe.

·      Communication. How will the camp director contact you if there is an issue? At what point will they contact you? Parents want to know their children are safe and that the camp will let them know if there is a problem. If the camp director and staff don’t communicate well, parents won’t be at ease.

·      Camp Culture. Ask the director about camp culture. What does the director value most about their program? What do counselors think about the camp? An uplifting, positive environment is essential for children to thrive in a camp setting. A staff that is proud of their program and offers encouragement to children is key to making a good camp choice.

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