Top 10 Tips for Children’s Summer Camps

If you are considering sending your child to camp for the first time, we have compiled 10 key things to ask about when you are arranging summer camps places for your child, all based on the Mykidstime Team’s experience!

#1. Do they have a Child Protection Policy?

All of the parents on Mykidstime said that it was important to find out if the camp provider has child protection policies and insurance cover in place.  It is good practice for all organisations that have contact with children and young people to introduce a child protection policy.

This policy helps to provide safeguards and support for staff when they are working with children and young people.  You can contact the Department of Children and Youth Affairs for further information on Child Protection guidelines.

One further tip: be sure to ask what the adults to children ratio is.  Ideally it should be 1 adult to 8 children.

#2. Check what time is pick up time

Siobhan’s tip is to ask if there is after-camp care available if you are working and can’t get there at the end of the camp, or what to do if you are running late.

They may be able to accommodate late arrivals but sometimes they can’t so it’s good to know what their policy on this is.

#3. Do they need to bring refreshments and food with them?

Katherine always asks if they need to bring lunch, drinks, snacks.  It is rare for organisations to include lunch so it’s good to know how much you should send in with your child.

If it is a particular active camp, make sure you send in extra water and something high energy like a banana to refuel them during the camp.

Related: Top tips for healthy lunch box ideas and How to read nutrition labels

#4. Is a change of clothes necessary?

Mary Kate says to check if they need to bring a change of clothes or swimming togs/towel.

Her tip: “It’s good to tuck in a plastic carrier bag to hold wet stuff afterwards“.

If it is a multi activity camp ask if they are doing e.g. a messy paint day to check whether or not to send them in old clothes that day.

#5. Do you need to give consent for outings?

Michelle reminded us that we should ask if they plan to take the kids on any outings during the camp and if so, what arrangements are in place, e.g. for transport, consent.

Double check that they will be returning to the central camp location for pickup.

#6. Ask if there is a sweet shop on site!

One Mykidstime parent (she wouldn’t give her name 🙂 ) discovered her boys were raiding their money boxes to buy things from the sweetie shop during lunch!

#7. Check how Lost Property is handled

After losing jumpers, jackets and even a pair of trousers through several sets of summer camps for her 3 boys, Etain makes sure to ask:

where lost property can be claimed after camp and for how long after will that remain open.  I’ve been forced to hound the poor camp provider for weeks to get our stuff back!”

#8. Ask how kids are released at the end of camp

Jennifer suggested that particularly if you have younger kids, ask how they are released to you at the end of the camp:

“Younger kids should not be wandering around looking for their parents… there should be some sort of sign out system or system to check if parent is there to collect.”

#9. Find out where to expect to collect from

Deborah suggests that you ask where in the venue do they finish so you know where to collect your child from e.g. if it is a multi activity camp, is it the swimming pool area so you know where to find them and check if you are expected to come early to dry/dress your child.

“I have been there wandering around trying to find my child at the end! So if there’s swimming involved ask them if you collect from the changing rooms to save yourself the stress”

#10. Check on age spread of the camp and how younger kids are looked after

Jill says “it’s worth definitely worth checking the spread of ages of kids? One of my kids, who was 5 at the time, ended up with 10 year olds the first day. Admittedly they did help take care of her and called her a “dote” when I came to pick her up but I hadn’t realised the ages were put together like that.”

It’s worth checking as well if your child is on the young side, if there will be help for getting changed, doing up shoes etc.

Final tip for parents of the younger kids: if your child doesn’t like the camp, suggest they try it for one more day, sometimes the first day can be a bit overwhelming especially if it is the first time they have been to camp. Often they enjoy the second day better and get into a groove with the other kids.

Have you sent you child on a camp before? What would your top tip be? Add yours to the comments below

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This website was created by Jill Holtz and Michelle Davitt, both of whom are mothers of young children. Jill and Michelle decided to create this resource themselves, and launched in 2007.