This guest post was provided by Avid4 Adventure, an adventure camp in Colorado, and 10-year parter with ACTIVE Network.
All parents want to choose the best and safest experiences for their child. Here are ten questions they should ask--and you should be prepared to answer–before enrollment. We recommend you take it a step further and proactively include this information about your camp on your website and brochure.
1. Is this camp accredited by the American Camp Association or other nationally recognized accrediting body?
Those with American Camp Association Accreditation have to comply with over 300 safety and youth development standards as assessed by outside reviewers. If your camp is accredited, let them know! If it’s not, take steps to get accredited.
Licensing is required in many states for camp programs for school-aged children by the State (Department of Human Services, for example). Licensing typically mandates that camps meet specific health and safety guidelines. If your camp is not licensed, be prepared to explain why not, and share your position on following health and safety guidelines set out by the State.
3. What is the counselor-to-child ratio?
The ratio of staff to campers tells parents how much individual attention their child will receive at camp. Break down your ratios to show how much is counseling staff and whether you include support staff that doesn’t work directly with campers. They may also want to know if these ratios are different during more specialized programming, such as aquatic activities and rock climbing.
4. What is the background of counselors and are they background-checked?
Parents should ask if the counselors are just there for a summer job, or are they dedicated to the fields of recreation, education or child development. Industry standard for background checks of individuals working with children includes personal reference checks, fingerprinting and submission for screening through the State’s Bureau of Investigation. Have this information available.
5. How are the counselors trained?
Quality camps have at least a 3-5 day training program that invests in staff and gives them tools they need to create a successful experiences. At minimum, staff should be trained in technical skills for activities, the camp’s philosophy, emergency guidelines, age group management and activity modification. Be able to explain how this is accomplished in staff training.
6. What is the median age of your camp counselors?
Mature counselors make a major difference in camp program quality and the manner in which campers are treated. Younger counselors can be outstanding with kids, but they can also be more impulsive in their judgment. If you utilize counselors who are under 18, explain how they are supervised, whether they supervise campers alone, and the accountability standards set up to monitor that.
7. Does the camp have a crisis management plan and/or rainy day plan?
Crisis management plans are required at schools and the workplace so they should be in effect at camp too. It also rains during summers and herding an entire camp indoors without backup activities in place can be challenging. Parents need reassurance about these aspects of camp.
8. What is the group’s practice for nutrition and hydration?
Dehydrated campers are grouchy campers and summers can be hot and dry. What does the program do to keep campers hydrated throughout the day? Additionally, camps should have a morning snack time as well as lunch, and an afternoon snack time, if camp goes late. We recommend they ask about hand-washing procedures, too–so have some!
9. How does the camp handle special needs?
This is a great question for all parents to ask because every camper has a special need at some time (nutrition, attention, hydration, rest etc.). When they hear your compassionate answers that involve individualized plans for each camper, they’ll feel more confident that your camp is focused on camper needs.
10. How are medications transported, stored and administered?
Legally, a nurse must delegate staff the authority for administering medications. Be ready to share about training, delegation and procedures around the handling of medications.
To learn more about Avid4 Adventure camps, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 800-977-9873.