Thinking about summer camp early in the year is not just a way to enjoy an imaginary escape, it’s a way to ensure your child has a chance to explore the options and consider a summer camp experience. The Ontario Camps Association (OCA) is a great place to begin your search and to find helpful advice from the experts. Call the OCA office at 416-485-0425 or visit www.ontariocampsassociation.ca for answers to your questions. Here are some frequently asked questions about day and overnight camps with answers provided by OCA.
DAY CAMP Q&A
1. How will I know my child is ready for day camp?
Age is not necessarily the determining factor and day camps tend to start as early as 3-years old. It is more important to consider your child’s experiences away from you and home and perhaps if he or she has expressed an interest in attending summer camp. Most day camps have an open house that you and your child can attend. This can be a great way to gauge your child’s interest and readiness for camp.
2. When should I begin my search for day camps?
Many families begin their research the year before their child will attend summer camp. We recommend that families plan a visit to day camps of their choice the summer before they are planning to register their child. Most camps will provide tours for prospective families throughout the summer.
3. Are there different types of day camps?
TRADITIONAL DAY CAMPS offer an exciting variety of activities including sports, swimming, arts and crafts, adventure, drama and more. These summer camps may be private, municipal, religiously affiliated, agency or special needs.
SPECIALTY SUMMER CAMPS offer focused activities in a particular area. These include sports camps, fine arts camps, performing arts programs, and academic camps.
SPECIAL NEEDS CAMPS focus on providing a successful camp experience to children with additional needs. They have more staff support and smaller camper:staff ratios.
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OVERNIGHT CAMP Q&A
1. How will I know if my child is ready for overnight camp?
Age is not necessarily the determining factor and overnight camps can start as early as 6-years old. As with day camp, it is more important to consider your child’s experiences away from you and home and perhaps if they have expressed an interest in attending summer camp. Has your child successfully slept out at a friend’s house or spent a weekend away from home? There are additional ways to gauge your child’s interest and readiness such as meeting with the director, attending an open house, or, if the camp offers it, attending a family weekend at the camp.
2. When should I begin my search for overnight camps?
Many families begin their research the year before their child will attend summer camp. This allows for on a tour of the camp the summer before while camp is in session. which allows for seeing camp “in action” and getting a real “feel” for the camp (e.g. spirit, community, supervision, etc.)
3. When should I register for an overnight camp?
If you have done your research the year before, then you should register as soon as possible. Some camps start their registration for the following summer before the current summer as reached its conclusion. And most camps offer discounts for early registration.
4. Are there different types of overnight camps?
TRADITIONAL OVERNIGHT CAMPS offer a tremendous variety of activities including land sports, water sports, arts and crafts, adventure, drama and more. These summer camps can be “coed”, “boys camps”, or”girls camps”.
SPECIALTY CAMPS offer focused activities in a particular area. These include sports camps, fine arts camps, performing arts summer programs, academic and travel programs.
SPECIAL NEEDS CAMPS as with day camps, they focus on providing a successful camp experience to children with additional needs. They have more staff support and smaller camper:staff ratios. These camps provide a traditional camp experience in a therapeutic environment.
5. What factors should I consider when selecting overnight camps?
ACTIVITY CHOICE and STRUCTURE. Full choice camps will allow campers to select all of their activities individually based on their own interests. A structured camp will pre-select a schedule of activities for an entire cabin group, ensuring variety and balance. Even within structured camp, there are typically some elective periods throughout the week.
LENGTH OF STAY – Camps offer anywhere from 1 to 8 week sessions.
DISTANCE FROM HOME – Consider the environment you want for your child along with your level of comfort. But keep in mind that distance from home is not directly related to homesickness!