Parenting Tips for Choosing a Summer Day Camp

Two preschool girls smiling outside at summer camp

When the calendar is still firmly in the winter months, it’s hard to think about summer camp! Yet, before you know it, you’ll be trading school for summer and snowsuits for swimsuits. 

If you are considering enrolling your child in summer camp, it’s never too early to begin learning about the different types of programs, costs, schedules, and admission procedures. 

When choosing a camp or summer program, reputations and word of mouth are meaningful resources; however, a terrific fit for one family might not be the best match for yours. Our best advice: think about your child's interests and start by making a list of important camp features. 



Below are some helpful questions parents often ask when gathering information about camps. Highlight the summer camp questions that are most important to you.

Camp Application Process:

  • What is the camp’s schedule? Is it flexible? 
  • What are the hours of operation? 
  • What is the deadline for submitting applications? 

Camp Tuition and Fees:

  • What are the tuition and registration fees? 
  • What is included in the tuition (e.g., transportation, meals, insurance, special trips, entrance fees, health services, use of equipment, etc.)? Ask for an itemized list of services with additional costs. 
  • Are scholarships available? 

Camp Health and Safety:

  • Who licenses the camp? Is the license current? 
  • What is your illness exclusion policy? 
  • How does the summer camp accommodate children who have special needs, such as asthma, diabetes, or allergies? 
  • What is the policy around water activities and how are children supervised during these activities? 
  • Are counselors and/or other camp staff required to be certified in CPR and First Aid? 
  • How does the camp handle emergencies? What happens if there is an emergency and parents cannot be reached? 

Staff Members and Camp Counselors:

  • What is the ratio between staff and campers? Do groupings stay consistent throughout the week? 
  • What are the counselors’ qualifications and experiences?  
  • What are the camp director's qualifications and experience? 
  • What are the counselors’ duties? Are counselors hired for short periods or for the entire summer? 

Summer Camp Schedule:

  • Does the camp offer an extended hours program? If so, what are the hours and cost? 
  • What is the daily routine
  • What activities does the camp offer for campers in my child's age group? Do children choose activities? What are some of the most popular activities? 

Child Supervision and Support:

  • What systems are in place to keep track of each child? 
  • Can siblings interact with each other during the day throughout the summer program? 
  • How does the camp help first-time campers get oriented and comfortable with the program? 
  • Does the camp offer field trips? How are the children supervised on field trips? How are the children transported? Is there an option if I don't want my child to go on a certain field trip?  

Parent Partnerships:

  • How does the camp communicate with parents (phone, email, notes, etc.)? How do parents receive information about events and activities, and how can they contact the camp when it’s in session? 
  • How does the camp solicit parents’ opinions, ideas, suggestions, and concerns? 
  • Are there parents of previous campers I can contact for a reference? 

Camp Environment:

  • Are there adequate supplies and equipment?
  • Does the camp use electronics or gaming systems? If so, what are the policies regarding electronics? 
  • Is the environment secure to prevent children from leaving or strangers from entering? 
  • Are there spaces where children can choose to relax or have quiet time? 

Meals at Camp:

  • Are lunches provided by the camp? (If yes, ask for a sample menu in advance. If no, ask what guidelines they have for bag lunches.) 
  • Are snacks provided during the day? What kind and when? 
  • Are special meals available for children with allergies or special needs?  

More On Choosing a Summer Camp

Two preschool girls smiling outside at summer camp