PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Summer camp season is fast approaching. Whether you’ve already picked a side or are still deciding, there are some things parents should ask in advance.
Karla Schell of the YMCA’s Camp Kon-O-Kwee Spencer says to check with the camp for their accreditation status. The American Camp Association accredits camps across the country through a rigorous process to ensure camps meet safety and program standards.
Schell, who is the associate executive director of Camp Kon-O-Kwee Spence, says to also ask about background checks. At Camp Kon-O-Kwee, for example, personnel must obtain four different clearances.
Another big question to ask is whether or not you can call your child. Schell says many overnight camps don’t allow check-in phone calls because it can make homesickness worse. But the camps will provide updates to parents. Each camp has its own rules and it is worth finding out in advance!
It can be fun and reassuring to walk around camp before departure, so that you and your camper are ready for the experience. Schell also added that it’s best to train away from your child in preparation. She suggests having them spend the night with a relative or trusted friend to make sure they can handle the separation.
There are also many day camps. Some are offered by youth organizations and others are offered by companies. Julie Bowman of the Carnegie Science Center says that especially if it’s a company offering the camp, ask about their experience and training working with young people. Also, make sure they are properly trained in first aid, safety, and background checks on employees.
Bowman also says to check their login/logout procedures. The Carnegie Science Center, for example, requires identification to be presented every day, even if that person is a relative and is familiar to staff.
You may also want to see what their COVID protocols are: are masks required, could this change, could camp be canceled due to COVID, and if so, would you get a refund.
Bowman also suggests asking about food for your camper and whether snacks or meals will be provided.
The most common question parents ask, according to Schell at Camp Kon-O-Kwee Spencer, is whether my child will make friends. Schell says they make sure to be very attentive and help any child who seems lonely!