Updated: Jul 24
Why 104 questions you ask? Well actually we 'only' came up with 103 questions, but that makes number 104, hah!
So here are our 103 bonafide questions that you can ask potential camps, camp alumni, and other parents to help you select the perfect summer program for your child.
Is it necessary to ask a prospective camp all 103 of these questions? Certainly not! Some questions will carry more weight for you than others - we all have our deal-breakers and deal-makers. For other questions the answers may already be clear from the camp’s website or FAQs section. If you are not yet sure which factors might really matter to you in a summer camp, consider this a primer to help you formulate your own set of essential criteria.
We’re oh-so-much-more certain than Heisenberg that our 103 questions have got everything covered, but if you think we’ve somehow missed an important caveat, please head over to the comments section and emptor your thoughts!
1. How long has the camp been in business?
Even the best camps started at year one, so don’t summarily dismiss camps that haven't been around since Model T Fords. That said, for both young and old summer programs alike you will want to take a look at their reviews and get a sense of their level of experience. And if the camp is relatively new, you'll want to investigate more thoroughly than you would a camp that has been around longer.
2. How many campers will attend?
Summer camp sizes can range from 30 to 3,000 campers, but ultimately it's up to you to decide what is the "right" answer. Obviously, a smaller camp may feel more personal, and may mean that the students may have more similar values, and therefore your child may be able to build friendships more easily. On the flip side, a bigger summer camp might allow for more choices and options in terms of courses, activities, and friends. Determine what environment would be ideal for your child, and then look for a summer program that best supports that experience.
3. Where is the camp's physical location?
Is the camp held at someone's house, a local park, school, or university campus? Is it located in a stimulating or exciting place? Different camp locations will create a different atmosphere and experience. Does it make the most sense to attend the camp in person or virtually?
4. What is the background and experience of the camp directors?
If you're looking for a summer camp with strong academics, it's probably important that the camp directors have a high level of academic achievement themselves and a strong background in education. Likewise, if you’re looking for a summer camp specializing in athletics, you'll probably want a camp that's run by full-time sports professionals. It's up to you to determine what level of relevant training and experience is acceptable. For some camps, a current undergraduate student or a high school tennis coach would be sufficient as an instructor. Whereas for others, only an Ivy League lecturer or former APT tennis player would be an appropriate mentor.
5. What do reviews say?
This can be difficult to judge in terms of pure numbers, because unhappy customers are much more likely to post a review than a majority who had a wonderful experience. However, if the same complaints are being echoed repeatedly, this is an indication that the summer program has a genuine problem. Also note whether the summer camp constructively responds to negative feedback in the review's comments. Keep in mind that some sites are highly regulated, keeping bad reviews hidden (which means some of the reviews might be biased or even might not be legitimate), while others are more lenient and present all reviews. So do check out the camp's online reputation on review sites, but do so with a grain of salt and try to diversify your sources.
6. What is the camper return rate?
Nothing says satisfaction like repeat business, but what should be considered a “good” camper return rate? This will depend on the camp. For some camps such as those specializing in academic courses, students may only come back when they are old enough to take the next level of their favorite subject. Whereas other students may enjoy coming back to study multiple subjects, even during the same summer! On the other hand, a summer camp specializing in gap-year programs will obviously have a return rate of 0%, though a good comparable in this case might be whether siblings subsequently attend the same camp. Alternatively, a local adventure camp for kids might have a return rate upwards of 50%. Given that camper return rates can vary widely, it’s important to consider whether your prospective camp’s answer makes sense given the type of camp, camp cost, camp participants, and so on.
7. Why was the camp started in the first place?
Maybe it's just to make friends and offer an enjoyable and relaxing summer experience after a year of hard study. Or maybe the camp’s mission is to give students a valuable academic experience where they can learn useful skills and get a head start in their future careers. Regardless, the right answer is the one that matches your summer goals.
8. How trustworthy is the camp website?
One way to tell how committed a camp is to their craft is by how much care they put into their materials and branding. A camp that neglects to update their website with correct info, or has a site that contains obvious spelling or grammatical mistakes, might indicate that operators are also not taking care of the camp’s other important details.
9. What makes the camp unique?
If you're searching for a camp, you might be considering a number of different options, which at face value may appear to be similar. So, if you aren't really sure what sets a camp apart, ask. The camp itself will be the first to tell you what differentiates them and why (they think) they're a cut above the rest. Then compare their answers to determine which camp would be best for your child.
10. Is the camp active on social media?
Active social media can mean different things to different people, but you might note whether a camp actively posts pictures from camps, puts up student reviews, answers parent questions, has their own Youtube channel, or demonstrably engages with the local community. As a parent, it should give you an extra sense of calm knowing that the camp is real and tangible, and is one that other campers and parents have enjoyed.
11. Can the camp provide parent references?
It can be useful to request the contact details of parents with kids the same age as yours who have previously attended the camp. Be aware that all references provided will naturally be from those who had a positive experience. Even so, there are probably certain areas of the camp they felt could have been better, so you can still use this as an opportunity to get a more balanced account of what a camp’s summer program is really like.
SIGNING UP FOR CAMP
12. What is the camp's registration process like?
A camp registration process doesn’t have to be long and involved in order for the camp to be a good one. But, if registration only asks for parent and student names and just one form of contact, or if they purport to be selective but don’t collect any potentially distinguishing criteria, that should raise a red flag.
13. When can you register or sign up for camp?
If you're a bit of a summer planning procrastinator, you need to keep tabs on meeting application deadlines and the possibility that your desired program may sell out. However, if you plan ahead in an attempt to beat the rush and secure early-bird savings, you'll want to find out when camps first starting taking registrations. Some start as early as the preceding fall (and it's advised to register as early as possible).
14. Does the camp have a wait-list?
Drats, you signed up for camp too late, and now your desired summer program is sold out. Ask the camp if there is a wait-list you can join, and if so, how it works (first come first served, when you’ll be informed if spaces have opened up, etc). Maybe you can also inquire whether or not the camp might consider adding an additional course or session to accommodate your needs. If their wait-list is already long or if you can recruit some additional siblings and their friends, the camp may be open to the idea.
15. Once you register for camp, can you make a change?
Ideally you’ll plan ahead so as to secure your first choices in summer programs and dates. But if your circumstances change, having the flexibility to make changes to start dates or to cancel is valuable. So you need to take into consideration what the camps refund and change policies are, and what it might cost to do so should the need arise.
16. Can the camp make an age exception?
Summer courses generally segment their programs into age groups in order to better cater to differing ability levels and facilitate friendships. But if you feel your child would get more value out of a program outside their specified age range, ask if the camp would be willing to accommodate a change.
17. Are there prerequisites to enrollment?
For some summer programs you may have to prove a certain proficiency in the subject or to have taken some prerequisite courses. Does your child have the required skills to take this course and get the most out of it? If not, there is no use trying to convince the camp to make an exception as they will most likely have a frustrating experience. By asking this question at the start you’ll ensure that you choose a camp where your child will excel.
18. Do they offer online courses?
If you can’t travel to the summer camp, do they offer online classes? Are these classes live so that you can ask your instructor questions and interact with other students in real time (i.e. synchronous), or are they recordings where this is not possible (i.e. asynchronous)?
19. Are online classes recorded?
Does your summer program provide you with access to recordings of your online classes in case you missed a crucial point in the lecture or want to go back later and revise an important idea? If so, for how long will these recordings be made available to you?
20. Are in-person classes recorded?
For the same reasons, does your summer program provide you with access to recordings of your in-person classes? This is substantially less common than for online classes.
21. Are there grades?
If you are on an academic summer course it’s important to find out whether student performance will be assessed, and if so, how. Is this something both you and your child are comfortable with? If so, be sure your child is adequately prepared to perform to their best ability.
22. Will my course instructor provide a letter of recommendation?
Is it possible to receive a letter of recommendation after the course finishes? If so, is this drafted by the camp company or their administrators or by your actual instructor? A letter of recommendation written by your instructor is much more useful for college applications and work experience because they have gotten to know you personally in an academic context and have the relevant expertise to assess ability.
23. What is the staff to camper ratio?
Staff to camper ratios can have a big impact on the level of supervision a summer camp is able to provide and therefore camper safety and well-being. Moreover, smaller ratios may facilitate better relationship building between campers and counselors. In addition, if you have a younger child you might inquire whether there are there differences in the level of supervision provided for younger campers.
24. What are the class sizes?
Would you rather sign up your son or daughter to a summer course that has 30 students per instructor, or one with at most a handful? When asking about student-to-instructor ratios, inquire whether these are simply averages from the past season or guaranteed maximums. While some camps claim to have a certain student-to-instructor ratios on average, they may not guarantee these numbers on their programs. Also, keep in mind that you don’t necessarily want a very small class size as this may limit your child’s ability to interact with, gain insight from, and make friends with other fabulous students.
25. Is camp in session on the 4th of July?
If you are American, this is a question that you might not think about until it is too late. If you sign up for a camp during the 4th of July, be sure that both you and your child are fine with spending the holiday apart. Otherwise, you'll need to make alternative arrangements.
26. Can kids call home when they want?
This is another question that doesn't necessarily have a right or wrong answer, but depends on the intended experience. If you’d like to have multiple daily check-ins with your child at regular times, you'll want to make sure your prospective camp will allow for that.
27. Can and should students bring their cellphones to camp?
On a similar vein, are students allowed to bring phones to the camp at all? If not, will this be a problem? Many camps which focus on an outdoor experience or ‘digital detox’ limit the amount of phone and screen-time allowed. On academic summer programs, phone use will be prohibited during classes, but outside the classroom may be useful for playing games and communicating with new friends.
28. What should your son or daughter bring with them to camp?
If your child is attending a camp, you’ll need to find out what they need to bring in order to be both safe and comfortable, and to participate in all the activities they want to. If your son or daughter is travelling to a new location this might not be obvious, so request a list of what they will need to bring and purchase required items beforehand.
29. Is the camp available by phone at all times?
Even if you don’t intend to call your camp in the middle of the program it's always nice to know they are reachable whenever you might need them, just in case.
30. Is transportation provided to and from the airport?
We appreciate that travelling alone for the first time can be quite daunting, both for the child and their parents! So it can really make a big difference to your summer camp experience if you are picked up from and dropped off at the airport. That way all you have to do is get on and off your flight and your summer camp will take care of the rest. Even if you are not flying to your summer camp, it is convenient if your chosen program makes the arrival and departure process as easy as possible.
31. Will the camp be transporting kids to and from the camp location and external activities?
Do you know whether or not there will be off campus activities as part of the camp experience? And if so, are you okay with your child being transported and supervised off campus? Also make sure that the planned extracurricular activities are things you are comfortable with your child doing.
32. What is the policy about letters and packages from home?
Every camp has a different policy about sending items to your children. Some camps encourage parents to send letters and care packages, while others may forbid it. Make sure you know the camp's policy ahead of time to avoid any sanctions or embarrassing at-camp faux pas (Trust us, your teen doesn't want to be the only kid who got a massive package from Mom!).
33. Can campers make their own schedule?
To what extent can campers decide which activities they participate in? Is their schedule set in stone upon arrival or is there choice about what campers do from day to day? Are there some activities which are optional and others which are mandatory? If you do have some choice, be sure to find out in advance what activities you can choose from.
34. What is the camp's cancellation policy?
Summer plans can change and it is important that you know what the financial implications are should you have to cancel, including cancellation deadlines, and the fraction of your financial commitment that may be returnable. Alternatively, if you have already passed the refund deadline, you can ask whether or not you can defer your course to a later date.
35. Does the camp offer insurance?
Unexpected life events are unavoidable. In the event that you must cancel your camp past the stated deadline, or if your property was damaged, or your child was injured or gets sick, does the camp assist with those costs? Although some camps may insure campers against such losses, most require their campers to take out medical, property, and travel insurance. In which case, you may ask them to recommend a trustworthy organization who can insure your child's stay at camp.
36. How does the camp handle discipline?
If a child is not behaving according to expectations how will this be handled? A warning? Time out from fun activities? A phone call to parents? Expulsion? What actions will lead to these measures? It's important to not only know how your child might be disciplined, but also and how issues are dealt with.
37. How does the camp resolve camper vs. camper conflict?
Related to the above, how will the camp resolve any conflicts that might arise between your child and other students? Will parents be notified of these problems if they occur?
38. How can I keep track of my child's progress?
If your child is at a camp where they'll be learning new skills, you'll probably want to track their progress and find out what they learned and achieved during their session. Will the camp keep you updated with their progress and contributions to the program?
39. What if my child misses some days?
If your child has to miss a day or two due to illness or other reasons, does it make sense for them to continue on with the rest of camp? Is there any way they can make up for time lost? If they are on an academic course, are the classes recorded and and made available in a timely fashion so that they can catch up with the material for next class, or at least be able to review it at a later date?
40. What happens if my child gets sick or suffers an injury?
Along this same vein, what will happen if your child gets sick or suffers an injury? Do camp staff have first aid training? Are they able to help take care of your child while they are ill or transport them to medical services as required?
41. Are there medical services close by?
In a medical emergency, how close is the nearest hospital from the campus? You can be lot more at ease if you know that medical services are a short car ride away as opposed to several hours.
42. What kind of camper is most likely to have a good experience at this camp?
This is a good question to ask in order to know if you are really sending your child to the right camp. Of course, ideally the camp’s response should paint a picture of exactly who your child is. Warning. If your prospective camp says ‘anyone’ would have a good time at their camp and would be a good fit for their program, this is actually a very negative sign that the camp hasn’t focused enough on anything in particular, and as a consequence wont be especially enjoyable to anyone.
43. Does the camp offer a balanced experience?
Do you want your child to spend all day in classes, or just enjoy hanging out making friends, or practicing their backhand and second serve? Do you want them to focus on one thing in particular, or do you want them to have a more balanced summer experience, and if so, how varied would you like their activities to be?
44. What does an average day at camp look like?
It’s also good to get an idea of what a typical day at the camp looks like. Are meals at reasonable times? Is bedtime too early or too late? If your child is not morning person, do activities and classes get going on the early side, and if so are there any options to start later?
45. What does the whole camp schedule look like?
What activities will your child be engaging in throughout the entire camp? Can the camp produce a schedule of these activities on request? If you are sending your child to an academic camp, what does the course curriculum include, and beyond the acquisition of simple facts - what realizations and understanding should a student leave camp with?
46. What is the pace of the day?
This has a lot to do with the questions above, but just a particular angle of looking at it. Is the pace of the camp frenetic and highly structured with little down time, or are there ample opportunities to improvise and explore one’s own interests?
47. Is there the opportunity for free time?
Everyone needs breaks, and not just a few minutes to brush teeth and call home. It can be useful to have at least an hour block of free-time every day to clear one’s mind and shift gears. So find a camp that works best with your child's natural work-rest rhythm.
48. Can your student receive school credit for camp activities?
Although most academic summer camp courses are not long enough or sufficiently focus on a singular topic to be eligible for school credits, camps may alternatively offer a letter of recommendation that can be used for college applications and future work experience, or a certificate of completion.
49. Can students progress at their own pace?
To what extent can students set their own pace on their programs? For some camps this is predetermined, and at others students may be required to achieve certain milestones before they can progress, or they may be able to set their own pace as they please.
50. Is the camp focused on fun or skill-building?
Not all academic camps are created equal. Not all wilderness camps are in place for students to just horse around. Yes, fun is an important aspect of any camp, but is that enough, or do you want the main focus to be on making your child a more successful student or on building up their survival skills? What sort of experience do you want your child to have at summer camp?
51. How are children grouped together?
Meaning, will children at camp consistently be placed with kids in a similar age group? Similar skill level? Will boys be placed with girls or is there a boys-only or girls-only camp option? Or are all students put together for all activities?
52. How much camper-to-camper interaction will there be?
If one of your summer goals is to build your child's life skills, then you'll want to know how much group or team work will be involved in the camp’s classes and daily activities, or whether the majority of the time campers will work individually.
53. How much camper-to-counselor interaction will there be?
At what times and places will your child and camp counselors interact? Will they be in contact at all times or principally during camp activities?
54. How much student-to-instructor interaction will there be?
At what times and places will your child have the opportunity to interact with their instructor? Will this only be during class times or can they contact with their instructor outside of class. Will the instructor join them for any other their other activities?
55. If choosing an academic camp, is there physical activity involved?
Will students be inside all day? Are they able to get up, go outside, and also partake of some planned physical activities? If so, is the physical activity component more than what your child feels comfortable with, is it sufficient?
56. Your child attended camp last year. Will it be the same experience?
Your son or daughter loved camp last year and wants to return, but other than it being fun and maybe meeting some old friends, will it still be as valuable on the second, third, and fourth time?
57. Is my student's favorite instructor returning?
It’s not uncommon for some parents to make the decision to return to a camp based on whether or not their child’s favorite instructor or staff member will be returning. As some camps can have significant annual turnover, it pays to inquire.
58. What if my child doesn't want to participate in camp activities?
This problem is most easily solved at the start. Do as much research as you can up front to ensure that your child is excited about the camp’s planned activities. If not, you should probably just choose a different camp. It’s hard to have fun when you’re not participating, and you might miss out on essential camp components, ending up with an incomplete experience, and possibly be penalized by the camp.
59. How long are summer camps?
Summer camp length varies greatly from program to program. A number of traditional camps run up to 10 weeks, or almost the entire summer, though most last 4-8 weeks. Academic camps tend to be shorter: either one or two weeks long. The ideal session length will depend on you, but if there are options, weigh the benefits and costs of a longer versus shorter commitment. For instance, if you are planning on taking consecutive academic courses, consider whether the camp offers sufficient downtime during and after each program to adequately recharge before the next one.
CAMP SUPERVISION & SAFETY
60. How does the camp recruit staff?
Does the camp hire just anyone who responds to a Craigslist ad? Or do they studiously recruit the best instructors in their field of study, and experienced counselors with a proven track record? In addition, what qualities do they look for when staffing their camps?
61. What is the staff return rate?
Meaning, is there a lot of staff turnover from summer to summer? While an answer of “no” is not an immediate cause for concern, there can be many benefits if this is not the case.
62. Do the staff receive continuing professional development training?
Is the camp nurturing their staff to continually perform better and better year on year? Do they provide training before the camp and performance reviews afterwards?
63. What kind of background checks are performed before staff is hired?
The top priority of any parent, and any good summer camp, is to ensure the safety of your child. By ensuring staff have clean background checks, camps minimize the risk of anything negative happening with your child. Criminal background checks, sexual offender checks, and following up with personal or professional references are all activities you should demand your final camp choice performs.
64. Does the camp director have relevant experience?
Does the director of your academic camp have the necessary pedagogic and professional experience? What are their credentials? Odds are that all camp directors will have some relevant experience, but the question is, how much, and how relevant?
65. Are counselors mature adults or young adults?
Some camps employ younger adults or even teenagers who may be only slightly older than your child as counselors. Other camps may exclusively employ older adult camp counselors who are paid professionals. While mature adults may be better suited to supervising and mentoring your child, you might prefer a camp to have some teen counselors as your child may be able to relate to and confide in them more easily.
66. Are counselors trained or do they just show up to camp the first day?
It's comforting to know that the staff at your selected summer camp have had occupation-based training prior to supervising your children. Not only in terms of professional conduct, but also dealing with day-to-day issues that may arise including health and safety.
67. How is the staff trained?
We all have different definitions of training, with some camps offering broader and deeper training than others. Inquire about specifics.
68. What is the level of qualifications of their instructors?
What are the qualifications of the camp’s instructors? Are instructor credentials in line with what you would aspire for your child? Do the instructors have experience teaching students of relevant age, ability, and ambition?
69. How well will the instructor get to know my child personally?
Will different instructors be teaching the same course? If so, it will be more difficult for your instructor to provide personal guidance to your child within the limited timeframe of a summer course. Find out whether there are structured opportunities built-in to the summer program which allow your child to receive feedback and personalized direction from the course instructor.
70. Will the instructors advertised on the website be the actual instructors in the class?
If a summer camp advertises “the best instructors” and highlights lecturers from prestigious institutions, is this “featured” instructor the actual instructor who will teach your child’s course this summer? Or is this an instructor who once taught a course for the summer school several years ago, or who will only teach some of the sessions offered. Be sure to find out who exactly will be teaching your child and their specific credentials.
71. Are there any add-on courses my child can take?
If your child finishes their summer course and is inspired to learn more, does the camp offer further course which build on what they have already learned? If so, is the class taught by the same instructor?
72. Are there opportunities for my child to continue being mentored by their favorite instructor after the summer?
If you child really ‘gets’ their instructor’s teaching and wants to keep learning from them, are there any opportunities available to do so, such as signing up for regular tutoring sessions?
73. Does the camp provide a list of recommended preparatory learning resources?
Will the summer camp provide a list of preparatory readings and videos before the camp starts? This can help your child get the most out of their forthcoming academic courses.
74. Does the camp provide a list of recommended continuing learning resources?
Once their summer course has finished, does the camp recommend a set of materials that your child can use to build upon the teachings from the program and progress from strength to strength thereafter?
75. Are there any continuing learning activities provided by the camp after the course?
It can be fun to get together with your classmates again after your course finishes. Are there activities arranged following the course that your child can participate in and keep learning? Perhaps your summer school helps coordinate you and your classmates to work together in team competitions where you can apply what you have learned on the course.
76. What is the camp's emergency response process?
Bad things can happen, and they can't always be predicted. Nevertheless, camps can prepare for how they will handle problematic situations when they inevitably arise. Every trustworthy camp should have an emergency response plan. You'll want to know that such a plan is in place should it prove necessary, and to ensure that the camp you're dealing with is credible more generally.
77. What is the camp's approach to supervision?
It’s not whether your children are "supervised" per se - every camp will say that students are supervised to some degree. Rather, you'll want to know the camp’s specific approach to supervision, and who is supervising the supervisors. This is especially true when sending a teenager to camp, as they tend to get more freedom than younger campers.
78. Will campers be relegated to general areas or free to roam?
Part of the value of your chosen camp experience might stem from the actual camp location. For instance, programs held on a college campus isn't as valuable if the students aren't able to explore university grounds a bit. So ask, to what extent will students have access to the various areas of the campus including swimming pools, sports fields, dorm rooms, gyms, libraries, and administrative buildings.
79. What protections are in place if my child is being bullied or otherwise harmed?
Unfortunately bullying can happen, and summer camps are not exempt from such behavior. If this might be a concern, discuss with your camp provider what protocols they follow in this situation to ensure your child will remain safe and knows how to react to a potential bullying situation.
MEALS & SNACKS
80. How is food prepared?
Is food prepared on-site at the summer school or brought in from outside. In each case, who or what company will be preparing it? This will provide some indication of quality.
81. Are restrictive diets catered to? If so, which?
Some children have more restrictive diets than others, including the avoidance of certain allergenic foods, vegetarianism, veganism, hallal, and kosher. In each case, you’ll need to inquire whether your child’s needs and preferences can be met by the summer school in question.
82. Are eating facilities sanitary?
This is a tough question to get a credible answer for or much useful detail. So, you’ll have to have a think about different ways of uncovering the desired information such as, where will students be eating, and what measures are taken to ensure that conditions are sanitary, and so on.
83. Are the meals balanced?
Pizza is going to be a given on any summer program. But contrary to many students’ adamant attestations, pizza is not a complete meal. Moreover, eating the same offerings several times a week can get boring and can even be unhealthy. So inquire also about the variety and balance of food groups offered on each meal. Better prepared summer programs should be able to send you a menu.
84. Are meals included in the cost of camp?
Meals and snacks may not be included in the cost of camp. So when weighing the cost and benefits of one summer program versus another, you'll need to check on how much food will be provided. If meals aren't included, ask how much a meal plan will cost.
85. How does the camp handle food allergies and medication?
Some students have serious conditions that must be attended to on a daily basis. Ask for great detail when it comes to the protocols the camp has in place to manage the administration of medications and serious conditions such as allergies, asthma, and epilepsy.
86. Will water always be readily accessible?
As such a basic need, it seems almost silly to ask, but on hot summer days it it is all too easy to get dangerously dehydrated. Find out whether camp staff will be attentive to water consumption and can ensure that their campers are drinking enough water.
87. Are sleeping spaces comfortable?
Since good sleep is a significant determinant of both academic performance and overall happiness, be sure to find out details about where your child will be sleeping ahead of time. While it’s practically guaranteed that your child won't be sleeping on king-sized beds fitted with high-thread-count Egyptian cotton, most sleeping spaces will nevertheless be comfortable. However, other factors such as ambient noise from traffic or nearby machinery, and lack of adequate light blocking curtains can have a material impact on your child’s quality of sleep. Nighttime temperatures can vary markedly by location, so find out whether you might need to bring extra blankets, or if the room your child will be sleeping in offers a fan or air conditioner. This way you can remedy some problems before they arise, and come prepared with ear plugs and sleeping masks if needed.
88. How much time is allocated to sleeping?
Part of the fun of summer camp is experiencing a taste of independence. Staying up late with friends on occasion might be one of those things that a parent is okay with, but even so, you want to make sure there is at least some structure around lights-out time.
89. Can students request a roommate?
While it can build character to travel somewhere new without a familiar face in sight, it can also be great to attend summer camp with an existing friend. Ask your camp if you can request a particular roommate.
90. What if my child doesn't like their assigned roommate?
There is always the chance that for whatever reason you and your summer camp roommate just wont get along. But if problems do arise it’s nice to know that the camp can help fix the problem one way or another.
91. Are dorm buildings co-ed?
If your child is attending a co-educational camp, find out the extent to which boys and girls dorm rooms and buildings are separated.
92. Is your child ready to go away to summer camp?
Summer camp can have a significant impact on children's self-esteem and confidence – as long as they're ready for the experience. However, even kids who don’t have a hard time spending a few nights away from home might need extra support in order to stay away for a week or more. If you think your child is ready in terms of maturity, then choose a camp and duration that best matches their abilities and skill level. If you are unsure, your prospective camp should be able to help you determine whether your child is ready to stay overnight for the required period, along with some tips to help make for the best outcome.
93. Are YOU ready for your child to go to summer camp?
While staying several weeks away from home might not be a big deal for your child, the same might not be true for yourself. Take a step back and imagine your son or daughter in a brand new environment far from home. Does the thought scare you a bit? If so, figure out why, and determine if this feeling would really justified if you have properly researched the summer program.
94. Should you send your child to a co-ed camp or single sex camp?
Sex-specific camps have their benefits, as do co-ed camps. Taking the opposite sex out of the equation can remove unhelpful feelings of embarrassment or inferiority, and help students make stronger connections with their peers. On the other hand, if your child attends a single-sex school during the year, the opportunity to socialize with the opposite sex during summer camp can be a valuable learning experience they might not otherwise have.
95. Can you justify the amount spent on the summer camp?
Remember, it's not just the cost of enrollment you have to consider. Will all meals be included? Do you have to pay for any transportation? Are there any extras you should purchase for your child’s comfort, safety, or in order to give them the full camp experience? Once you've calculated this total cost, introspect on whether you think the potential benefits your child might gain from the summer camp are worth it, be those learning new skills, meeting new friends, enhancing their college applications, or discovering their future career.
96. Is the course content clearly enumerated?
On the summer course your child will be attending, is the content that they will be learning clearly outlined. Or is the class described in vague generalities, and if so, if you call up and ask the for clarification, is the camp staff able to do so?
97. When is the best time for you to register?
The answer is always 'early'. Why? Because if you do so you can usually enjoy lower early bird fees, you’ll also save on airline tickets and other expenses if bought in advance, your child will be more likely to get into the summer course they really want, you’ll be able to better plan the rest of your summer around the camp and avoid conflicts, and finally you’ll have peace of mind that your child’s summer has already been sorted.
98. What opportunity costs are involved?
We've already gone over the majority of explicit summer camp costs, but as the best economists will remind you, one must consider the opportunity costs of sending your child to camp as well. What alternative beneficial activities is your child giving up in attending a summer course? Additionally, what are you as a parent giving up by sending them to camp?
99. Can you visit the camp beforehand?
This is more important for some camps than others. If you're attending a summer camp held at a local high school, as long as the camp is in session it is straightforward to meet the staff and you can probably visit anytime. If a summer school is further away it may not be practical to set up a tour; in this case you’ll have to rely on published videos and photos or descriptions from staff.
Are we here yet?
100. Can my child stay in touch with their counselor after camp?
An important benefit of summer camp is relationship-building, whether it be peer-to-peer interaction or camper-to-instructor interaction. Better camps will have post-camp policies about staying in touch with former counselors, such as whether this is allowed and if so under what contexts. For instance, it is common practice that parents must consent and be CC’ed on any post-camp communiques.
101. What is the camp's tax ID number?
Did you know summer camp can be tax deductible? Consult your tax professional for details and don’t forget to ask for your camp’s tax ID number.
102. What is the best way to leave feedback?
Summer camps love to hear your feedback so they can identify areas for improvement, and because the staff enjoy hearing about all your amazing experiences. Feedback is also useful to help summer camps recruit other like-minded students in the future and thereby improve camper experience. Ask your camp how they prefer you leave feedback, whether it's on their bespoke reviews page or elsewhere.
103. Is there a camp alumni network?
Does the camp maintain an alumni group where students can share experiences on the course and stay in touch afterwards? Do they organize in-person reunions or online meetups? If not, are there other structured ways for students to stay in touch with friends after their summer course together?
So, there you have it, 103 questions to ask prospective summer camps. If you can think of any more, please let us know – or better yet, ask us anything you’d like about our elite summer courses in Business, Medicine, Law, Engineering, Computer Science, Career Exploration, and the English Language. We’d love to tell you how our world-elite academic programs can energize your summer, enhance your college applications, and supercharge your future. We can’t wait to hear from you!