On Your Side: BBB warns parents to take precautions when picking summer camps

(YMCA Camp Wakonda)
Published: Mar. 20, 2023 at 3:53 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - It might just be the first day of spring, but many families are already considering what they will do with their children for the summer.

”Just like with regular childcare, a good camp is hard to find,” says Pamela Hernandez, the Springfield-Branson regional director for the Better Business Bureau. “So it’s important to do this research now and get started early before the camp that really interests your child fills up for the summer.”

BBB advises parents to use the same level of care in choosing a summer camp that they might in choosing a childcare provider. Your child will be spending all day there and possibly staying overnight. Parents need to be confident not only that their child is learning and having fun but that they’re safe and will be properly cared for in case of an emergency.

Here are some more tips to help your child have a safe, fun summer:

  • Check for accreditation. Look for trustworthy camps that are accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA) or by BBB. ACA-accredited camps must meet 32 national summer camp standards, and BBB-accredited businesses must meet the eight Standards for Trust. You can use BBB.org to find camps near you, check for accreditation, and read reviews.
  • Use references. It can be reassuring to have a recommendation from someone you know and trust. Ask friends and family for suggestions. You can also ask the camp if they have a list of past campers you can contact who are willing to give references.
  • Always visit the camp before paying. Check the location of the camp and view the living, eating, and recreational facilities. Take the opportunity to meet the staff.
  • Know the required safety standards. Individual states will have their own health and safety guidelines for summer camps, and all will follow CDC recommendations. Ask about the camp’s safety standards, particularly for water activities, archery, and out-of-camp trips.
  • Learn about medical facilities and emergency procedures. Ask how you will be contacted in case of an emergency and what medical resources the camp has on-site. Some camps have specific processes for children who need daily medication, so be sure to find out how the camp can accommodate your child’s specific needs.
  • Ask about family visits and communication. It’s important to know when you can contact your child and how the staff handles homesickness.
  • Look into the camp director and staff’s background. Ask how the staff are trained and if background checks are conducted. Also, find out what the ratio of campers to staff is.
  • Ask about the camper and counselor return rate. It’s a good sign if campers and counselors alike are excited to return to the camp year after year.
  • Review contracts, fees, and deadlines. It’s good practice to carefully review contracts before you sign them. Make sure you understand the total cost, whether there are any additional fees, and what the refund policy is before signing.

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