Are you planning on sending your child to summer camp this year? Plan on starting early. The best camps tend to fill up fast and you don’t want your online shopping cart to be left empty come deadline day.
There are more day camps to choose from today than ever before. Itineraries can be curated to suit any child’s interests — from pets, basketball, swimming, boating and more to overnight week-long camps that teach your kids about nature while letting them experience new outdoor activities such as zip-lining or wakeboarding.
But before you press “buy,” you will want to do your research and ask the appropriate questions to ensure the camp is right for you and your child. At Muskoka Woods, you can schedule a call back on the site so you can speak with an Experience Expert and inquire about anything related to the summer camp. Not sure where to start? We have compiled the top 10 questions you should ask.
Is your camp accredited?
While many camps must meet legislated standards within their province, an accredited camp meets additional requirements related to site, facility, administration, leadership, health and food services — plus, the programs are determined by the provincial association. Look for your provincial camping association online as it will list both accredited day and overnight camps.
What is the camper-to-staff ratio?
The camper-to-staff ratio indicates the level of supervision your child will have while away at camp. According to the Ontario Camp Association (OCA), camper ratios should be no larger than one staff per six children under five years of age and one staff per 10 campers ages six and older. While, according to the OCA, camps must exercise good judgement in establishing their camper-to-staff ratio in controlled environments (some may feel fewer staff is acceptable), it says more staff is recommended during higher risk activities.
What kind of background checks are performed before staff is hired?
The safety of your child is your top priority and any good summer camp can ensure the proper checks are done on any staff before hiring.
How does the camp handle food allergies or medication?
Is your child lactose intolerant? Celiac? Allergic to strawberries? Has a medical condition that requires daily monitoring? Find out in detail how these concerns are addressed.
What activities are available at the camp?
If your child is deathly afraid of the water, you don’t want to send them to a camp that solely focuses on swimming, water-skiing or wakeboarding. Find out what activities are offered at the camp and look for one that presents a wide variety to ensure your child can experience an array of activities.
Can kids call home?
If your child has anxiety about staying at an overnight camp (or you have anxiety about them going), this question can put your mind at ease. If calls are not allowed, ask for other options on how parents and campers can communicate during their stay.
What kind of child is most likely to have a good experience at the camp?
Does the camp cater to younger children? Even the mention of camp can scare away a pre-teen or teen, so find out what activities are there (if any) to cater to an older crowd? Is your child looking for a more academic adventure or a traditional sit-around-the-campfire experience? This can help you find the right match for your child.
What does a typical day at camp look like?
Will campers be spending all day on a certain activity or will activities be switched up and balanced throughout? Will they have free time to experience other activities? If it’s an overnight camp, what time of day does the camp start and when does the day end? Having a sense of the camp’s day can help you decide if it’s right for your child and can also get the child excited for camp when you talk about what the experience will be like.
How are the campers grouped together?
Are you looking for an all boys’ or girls’ camp? Don’t care if it’s co-ed? Are older kids mixed in with younger campers? Find out how campers are grouped together throughout the day and/or week.
When should I register?
Many camps sell out of their most popular weeks around Christmas and New Years Eve. If you procrastinate too long, you may either be left with little selection or be out of luck entirely, especially if the summer camp you’re interested in doesn’t have large capacity.
Muskoka Woods welcomes over 600 guests each week so while some weeks do fill up quickly – around Christmas – it’s important to register as early as possible to ensure the activities you want are available. Registration at Muskoka Woods opens up the week after Labour Day and you can reserve your spot with a deposit.
Rachel is the publisher of inBetween magazine geared towards parents of teens and young adults. Mom to her 12-year-old son, her more than 20 years of experience in journalism have been spent researching and writing about issues closest to families. Rachel, a native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, she now lives with her husband and their son in Toronto.