Many people have positive experiences surrounding summer camp and all the fun that comes with it, but it can be a stressful time for kids who have never attended summer camp or first-time parents who haven’t signed their children up for camp yet.

Summer camp is often a wonderful experience for those who go to one, but it’s not without its challenges. Below are some tips for choosing a summer camp for your kids and some tips to help them prepare for a fun time at camp!

Choosing a summer camp:

Start looking for camps early. Summer camps are a popular choice for working parents when school is out for the summer. Because of this, it’s important to start looking and considering camps as early as possible, since many of them fill up quickly!

Get your kids involved in the process and be mindful of their personalities and interests. There is a multitude of different camps that all have their own unique benefits to offer. For example, if your child is in cheerleading and enjoys it, a cheerleading camp may be a good option. Alternatively, if you’re child is interested in music or playing an instrument, a music camp could be a better fit for them.

Consider whether your child would do better with a day camp or an overnight camp. This will vary based on your child’s age, personality, temperament, and more. Being away from home for the first time can be incredibly stressful for a child who may be a homebody. An independent child, on the other hand, may love to be able to have the opportunity to be away from their parents and home for a while and see the world.

Ask for recommendations. The initial camp search can be overwhelming! Try asking around to see what other parents may recommend for camps. You can start by reaching out to a local Facebook mom or dad group, and go from there.

Know the camp’s vaccine and medical requirements. Many camps won’t allow unvaccinated children due to the potential of spreading illnesses in closed quarters. Other camps may not let your child attend until they’ve had a sports physical. Make sure you know what the camp you are interested in requires before enrolling your child.

Tips for preparing your kids:

• Swim lessons. Most, if not all camps, have a body of water on their properties, whether it’s a lake or a pond, where water activities take place. To help ensure your child’s safety and enjoyment, it’s wise to consider signing them up for swim lessons prior to the start of camp. Kids of nearly any age can take swim lessons—even infants! Aside from being a good tip for summer camp, teaching your child how to swim can bring you peace of mind and open up other activities you can do as a family together.

• Make a pediatric appointment. Along with many camps requiring a physical before your child can participate in camp activities, a visit with your child’s pediatrician can rule out underlying health conditions, prescribe medications that may be needed, and ensure your child is healthy and well enough to attend summer camp.

• Get in touch with the camp of your choice’s directors and staff to discuss any special health or behavioral needs, if applicable, for your child. Include in your discussion any allergies, physical limitations, or anything else to ensure your child’s safety at camp while they’re away.

• Know the rules about devices and electronics at camp. Many camps don’t allow devices so that kids can disconnect and focus on camp activities. If digital devices are not allowed, plan another way to stay in touch with your child.

To learn more about choosing a summer camp and how to prepare your child, click here!