How to decide which summer camp is best for your child

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There are over 15,000 summer camps across the country. So how do you decide where to send your child and how do you find programs operating in your area?

INDIANAPOLIS — School is closed for the summer, which means many kids are heading to summer camp … or they usually would.

Summer programs are a great way to continue learning and growing after school is out, but choosing one for your child can be difficult. And that decision is made more difficult by severe staffing shortages that are forcing many camps to cut programs short or cancel them altogether.

Camp IHC in Pennsylvania is one of the camps still operating this season, but the camp has had to raise salaries and hire international staff to have enough counselors.

“You know, we’ve seen the cost of staff go up 30-50%. So it’s really tricky, when in 2020 most of us haven’t opened at all,” Lauren Rutkowski said. , the director of the camp.

Meanwhile, in Georgia, Camp Fire Camp Toccoa has canceled its overnight camp due to “difficulty securing necessary personnel”. In Michigan, camp Traverse City canceled its summer day camp program, saying it could not hire enough workers to meet state regulations that require a student-to-counsellor ratio of 10:1 .

The staffing issues come as demand has rebounded following pandemic-related disruptions. Some 26 million children nationwide are expected to be enrolled in one of more than 15,000 summer camps nationwide.

So how do you decide where to send your child and how do you find programs that work in your area?

Jamie Le Sesne Spears is a Family Engagement Specialist for Child Care Answers, which helps families find the right daycare for their young children.

According to The Sense Spears, the best place to start is to ask your child what he wants to do.

“Give your child a little interest in their summer and let them own it, and I think you’d be surprised how interested they would be in sharing their thoughts with you,” she said.

When it comes time to choose, experts suggest different guidelines for different age groups.

Indiana After School Network’s Lakshmi Hasanadka suggests parents take a different approach depending on what age group their child is in.

For elementary-aged children, she says, “You want to see a wide variety of activities in a structured setting. Children need to know what to expect and what to rely on, while being challenged in a large variety of areas.”

She said parents with kids in college should look for programs that offer a variety of options, “things that might give them a connection to real-world experience” and also healthy interaction with their peers.

And for high schoolers, she says, it’s all about choice.

“High school kids might be looking for activities that help them in their careers, help them prepare for college…give them leadership opportunities,” Hasanadka said.

If you need help finding child care or summer programs, help is available.

You can request a list of programs at Child Care Answers’ website. Indiana Afterschool Network also has a list of summer programming resources on its website. More summer camps offered in central Indiana can be found here.

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