BY CAROLINE KEYSER
SUMMER IS ON its way, so what to do with
the kids for the next three months? Camp
is one answer, but with so many options it
can be hard to know which to choose. Here
are some factors to consider to make sure
your child is one happy camper.
Is your daughter obsessed with basket-
ball? Does your son spend hours on craft
projects? Your child’s unique interests
should play a large role in determining what
type of camp to send him or her to, says Brad
Chotiner, director of the St. Louis Jewish
Community Center’s day camps (jccstl.
com). “My ;rst question would be, ‘What is
your child interested in?’ Should they be in
a competitive sports camp or a not-so-
competitive sports camp? Or do you want
a little of everything?”
Chotiner suggests parents interview the
camp director to make sure the camp’s
philosophy ;ts with what they and their
child are looking for.
Kim Holtz-Sloan, assistant director of
Camp Sabra (
campsabra.com), an overnight
camp in Missouri’s Ozarks region, says that
;nding the right ;t sometimes means sending kids elsewhere. “If parents say they want
activities we don’t have, I’ll de;nitely point
them somewhere else. Every camp has
something special about it; it’s just a matter
of ;nding that correct ;t.”
Camp is a very di;erent environment
from what your child is used to at school or
at home, which can be both challenging and
positive. Your child’s comfort level with new
situations and new people is a major factor
to consider in choosing a camp, especially
when determining whether your child is
ready to transition to an overnight camp.
“It has to be something the kids want to
do,” says Neil Gould, director of Camp Tioga
camptioga.com), an overnight camp in
Pennsylvania. “It’s worth waiting that extra
summer if it means they’ll be more engaged
and more ready to be away from home.”
Scott Bennett, a Costco member in the
Dallas area, has two daughters who have
attended Camp Sabra for many years. He
says that one of the biggest bene;ts of camp
for them has been the opportunity to
develop independence and social skills.
“Giving your kids a chance to branch out
is important,” he adds. “At camp, you learn
to live with and coexist with other people
who aren’t necessarily like you. I think they
develop as much in that one month as they
do the other ;; months at home.”
Safety and logistics
A camp’s location, session dates and
hours of operation (in the case of day
camps) can make the di;erence in choosing
one camp over another. Some overnight
camps provide transportation to and from
the camp, while others don’t.
Accreditation by the American Camp
acacamps.org) is one way to
know that a camp is adhering to high standards of health, safety and program quality.
“If you have a child with dietary or
health issues, you want a camp that will
address those in a way that’s bene;cial,” says
Lori Waldman, owner and director of Camp
Blue Ridge in Georgia (
“And I always suggest parents ;nd a camp
that has great communication with them.”
Cost can be another factor in choosing
a camp, but many camps o;er aid and scholarships, either directly from the camp or
through a local or regional organization.
Parents can contact a camp they are interested in to ask about ;nancial aid options.
Says Chotiner, “I’m convinced there is
a right camp for every child.” C
Caroline Keyser is a freelance writer based in
the St. Louis area.
Costco members will ;nd just about
everything they need to out;t their young
camper at Costco and on Costco.com.
Choosing the best
summer camp for
TYPES OF CAMPS
• Faith-based. Church camps and others
affiliated with religious organizations.
• Sports camps. Camps for a number of
sports, at varying levels of competition.
• Scouting camps. The Boy Scouts and
Girl Scouts offer many camps across
• Arts camps. Local theaters and museums often provide camps centered on
art, theater or music.
• Technology. Many universities offer
camps focusing on computers and
To search for camps, visit aca
camps.org (you can search based on
stars, ZIP codes and costs); summer
camps.com or campchannel.com.—CK
PHOTOS: CAMP BLUE RIDGE; CAMP SABRA
Choose activities, such as archery at
Camp Sabra (far left) and group craft
picnics at Camp Blue Ridge (left), that
match your child’s interests.