Milwaukee, Wis., April 22, 2010 –
Summer camps put out glossy brochures and idyllic descriptions to convince parents that their camps are the best place for children once school is out for the summer. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) reminds parents that they should look beyond the sales pitch if they want their children to be safe and well-supervised.
“Great camps do far more than provide activities that keep children busy during the day,” said Randall Hoth, president and CEO of the Wisconsin BBB.
“Parents need to visit camps to check out physical facilities, ask about the staff’s training and experience and find out how a camp will handle medical emergencies,” Hoth said.
When choosing a camp, parents need to use the same care and common sense they would use in evaluating a day care program. They should look for a camp that provides activities that are of interest to their child and appropriate for the child’s age and skill level.
Some camps, such as those organized around a particular sport, are highly structured and stress development of specific skills. Others are more flexible and give campers the opportunity to choose some of their activities. Your child’s interest and personality should be your guide in choosing an appropriate program.
Parents should ask how long a camp has been in business and check with parents of past and returning students. They can check with the BBB to find out about the camp’s handling of complaints and its trustworthiness.
The standards for day and overnight camps may be different, but each should have your child’s safety and well-being as its highest priority. However, it is up to parents to make sure the camp is right for their child.
The BBB offers the following tips for parents:
- Always visit the camp before submitting your deposit. Check its location and view the living, eating and recreational facilities. Ask about safety procedures (particularly for water activities, archery and out-of-camp trips), and assess the quality and commitment of the staff.
- What are the total fees and payment deadlines? Is your deposit refundable? Are there extra charges for any activities? Are meals and transportation offered?
- What is the camper return rate? The counselor return rate?
- What is the camp director’s background? How is the staff trained? Are criminal checks made for employees and volunteers? What is the ratio of campers to staff members?
- Are medical facilities adequate and is a nurse or doctor on site? What are the procedures for transporting injured or sick children to nearby medical facilities?
- What are the safety rules and how are they enforced? Does the camp have appropriate insurance coverage?
- Are family visits or other communications with campers allowed? How is homesickness handled?
- Are references from parents of repeat campers available? Ask them about their child’s experience and why they recommend the camp.
- Finally, look for camps that are certified by the American Camp Association. ACA-accredited camps have met up to 300 nationally recognized standards.
- For more information on an individual camp or to check a BBB Reliability Report on a business or charity, call 414-847-6000 (metro Milwaukee), 920-734-4352 (NE Wisconsin) or 800-273-1002 (elsewhere in Wisconsin) or visit www.bbb.org.