Traditional Summer Camps – Frequently Asked Questions, Answered

What are the benefits of sending a child to a traditional summer camp? Should you select a summer day camp or an overnight summer camp?

Positive summer day camp or overnight summer camp experiences can be of tremendous benefit to your child’s development. While at a traditional summer camp, either a summer day camp or overnight summer camp, children learn about themselves, learn to be more independent, are expected to live up to expectations and help out younger campers.

A good traditional summer camp program can help increase a child’s self-esteem, teach them respect for others, enable them to learn self-respect and also learn tolerance of others. Living in a group situation, as in an overnight summer camp, campers learn to accept differences such as race, religious beliefs and cultural differences. Both types of traditional summer camps offer benefits that will help your children grow and mature and broaden their horizons.

When you receive a traditional summer camp’s brochure, you will invariably have questions for the camp director about the camp philosophy as well as that of the director. From that first phone call and/or visit to the web site, you begin developing an impression of what a particular traditional summer camp is like and how it’s run.

A traditional summer camp may be described in nothing less than glowing terms in its brochures. The setting can be absolutely breathtaking. Activities offered by the camp may run the gamut from racquetball to modern dance. In the end, however, it’s the human equation of how those activities are operated and conducted that determines the quality of the summer day camp or overnight summer camp program. Remember the marketing materials for traditional summer camps are designed to make you want to send your child there!

Get to know the camp director as a person through telephone conversations, correspondence and if possible, a personal visit. Have the director describe the camp’s philosophy and how it is carried out by the staff. Find out if you have the option of sending your child for summer day camp or overnight summer camp. Ask how many years the director has been at that camp and also find out the total number of years he or she has worked as a traditional summer camp director.

How Much Is It Going To Cost?

One of the biggest questions facing parents when they consider sending a child to a traditional summer camp is the cost. The cost of a traditional summer camp, whether a summer day camp or overnight summer camp, can be substantial especially if there is more than camp-age child. American Camping Association accredited overnight summer camps and summer day camps offer price ranges to fit every budget. While not always the case, if a non-traditional summer camp is designed for a very specialized group of campers, it may be more expensive than traditional summer camps, which are also often called adventure camps.

The cost of a traditional summer camp per week will probably also figure into how many weeks of summer day camp or overnight summer camp your child(ren) will attend. The American Camping Association reports the among its accredited camps, both summer day camps and overnight summer camps, the prices for a week of summer day camp or overnight summer camp ranges from $75 per week to $650 per week.

There are some ways to save money, even if it is not obvious from reading the camp brochure or visiting the camp’s website.

The first question you should ask is whether or not financial assistance is available to help subsidize the tuition costs. It’s not uncommon for all kinds of summer day camps and overnight summer camps to set aside a certain number of spots for families who might not otherwise be able to afford to send their child to traditional summer camp. If they don’t offer to subsidize the full cost of the camp session, they may pay part of it.

Although scholarships for traditional summer camp programs are usually available on the basis of need, there may be extra unclaimed subsidized spots which the camp will allow your child to fill. You won’t know, though, unless you ask. If you are hoping to receive a scholarship or other type of financial assistance, it’s a good idea to apply early before all the slots are taken.

Another way to save on the cost of traditional summer camp is to find out if special discounts are available. Often summer day camps or overnight summer camps will offer a discounted tuition price for early registration, for siblings attending the same camp, or for signing your child up for a particular session of the summer camp program. Again, if you don’t ask, you won’t know what your options are.

What is included in the tuition cost?

Typically, transportation is included as part of the cost for summer day camps. Resident or overnight summer camps may offer transportation from a central location or may require the campers to be delivered to the campground. If the overnight summer camp program includes trips, movies, laundry service, snack bar, special equipment or other costs, find out if they are included in the cost, if your need to pay a separate additional fee, or if you should send extra money with your child to camp.

What is the refund policy?

Refund policies vary greatly from camp to camp. Some refunds cover only illness of the child, while some will give a total refund if it is requested prior to a certain date. Some camps may return all but a registration or administrative fee and some may not offer refunds at all.

What is the camp’s philosophy and program emphasis?

Each traditional summer camp has its own method of constructing programs based on its philosophy. Does it complement your own parenting philosophy? Are the activities at the summer day camp or overnight summer camp of interest to your child? Many traditional summer camps actively promote competition and healthy rivalry among camp teams, as reflected in team sports. For many campers this is pure fun. Some parents feel that learning to be competitive at an early age teaches essential survival skills. However, other parents and educators are in favor of cooperative learning. Research has shown that noncompetitive methods encourage young people to learn more, retain it longer, and develop greater self-esteem and appreciation for others. Knowing your child’s personality and style of learning is valuable in selecting the right summer day camp or overnight summer camp.