Summer Camp Resources to Share with Working Parents

summer camp resources

The following post was written by Nancy Burlingame, Vice President, Client Relations at Bright Horizons.

With all the recent snow storms it may be hard to believe, but this is the time of year employees start thinking about Summer Camp! As a single mom of three who works full-time, I remember the annual hustle and bustle: sports camp, theatre camp, town camp, day camp, overnight camp, vacations... With all these choices, what's a parent to do?

We know that when employees feel they have their family life in order, they're more productive at work. Dependent care solutions are a big part of this! So, how can we as employers support these efforts? Here are some resources and Bright Horizons programs to help them get started.

Summer Camp Resources to Share

One great and FREE resource that you can share with your employee population is http://find.acacamps.org. This site offers an array of camps across the country for parents to look into. In addition, many child care programs offer special curricula for the summer months to be sure that children are still learning, but in many different ways. Click here to see what Bright Horizons Centers are offering this summer.

Mark Allen, Client Relations Manager at Bright Horizons, spent 20 years managing a summer camp program; first for IBM, then for Bright Horizons at the Casperkill Country Club in Poughkeepsie, New York. Below are some tips from Mark on what defines a great summer program.

Tips for Selecting a Summer Camp

First, look for quality staff and leadership within any camp program. Ask how long the Camp Director has been at that particular location. A long-standing Camp Director will have the necessary experience in hiring quality counselors and also have the innovation to bring in new programming year after year.

Be sure to take a tour with your kids of the camp facility and speak to the director and staff. Ask about programming for specific age groups. What's the ratio of counselors to campers? Learn about the camp's safety measures: if there's a swimming program, are certified lifeguards always on duty?

Take a look at the camp's website. Some camps have virtual tours and photos to help illustrate what a typical camp day is like. Find out about before and after care around the typical camp day. Camp hours aren't necessarily the most convenient for working parents. Ask for references: other families who have used the camp are a great resource. And, feel free to compare camp pricing. Sometimes the most expensive camp is not the best camp for your needs.

Lastly, be comfortable with where you are dropping your children off each morning. There are many choices of camps throughout your neighborhood. If you do a little homework ahead of time, you and your entire family can have a great summer of activities, meeting new friends, and experiencing new adventures. Enjoy your summer!

Planning Work & Summer Camp Schedules

There is another issue that arises as parents are wrapping up their summer camp planning: Gap Weeks. What are gap weeks you ask? It's the time where school's not in session, and neither is camp. What is a working parent to do?! Yes, there's vacation time. Vacation time should be used, especially because it helps employees recharge, but we also know that working parents are increasingly using sick and vacation time to attend to family responsibilities. That's not really vacation time.

The great news is that there is a better answer. Many employers allow employees to use their back-up care days during the summer, to fill those gaps when they occur. Based on conversations with my clients, this has historically been an employee favorite:

"This is a great employee benefit. It helped us bridge the gap between the end of camp and the school year and our son loved the ice cream and tacos served the Friday before Labor Day weekend. Also the staff is very friendly and responsive whenever I reach out."
In fact, with in-home care, you can care for up to three dependents at once, allowing you to leave the commuting to the caregiver! Here are some great at-home activities for summer to supplement your child's summer fun while being cared for at home.

While scheduling summer camp and care is always a daunting project, there are lots of supports out there to help your employees make the most of their benefits while planning for this time!