Finding safe summer camps

MGN Online

POSTED: Wednesday, May 1, 2013 - 3:56pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, May 1, 2013 - 8:21pm

School's out, so what's next?
Summer camps can be the fun kids are looking for and the child care parents need.

"A child's safety and well being is top priority," said Margo Monreal of the Better Business Bureau. "You should evaluate a camp just as you would a daycare".

While fun activities are important, the BBB said making sure the camp is safe is vital.

"First priorities would be safety, health, and satisfaction," Monreal said.

She suggests asking questions like:

What's the counselor to camper ratio?
Is there a doctor or nurse on staff?
What happens when your child gets sick?

Parents should take the time to ask questions about the camp and the qualifications of the instructors or teachers.

"We want them to visit us first and talk to us and ask us everything they need to ask and all of the concerns or questions that they have" said Laura Holguin, Principal of Ibero Academy in El Paso.

Make sure everyone who'll be in charge of your child has a background check and is properly trained.
Ask what the safety rules are and how they're enforced.

Here's what the BBB recommends:

1. 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.
2. Ask about fees and payment deadlines. Is your deposit refundable? Are there extra charges for any activities? Are meals and transportation offered?
3. What is the camper return rate? The counselor return rate?
4. 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?
5. Are medical facilities adequate? Is a nurse or doctor on site? What are the procedures for transporting injured or sick children to medical facilities? Are those facilities nearby?
6. What are the safety rules and how are they enforced? Does the camp have appropriate insurance coverage?
7. Are family visits or other communications with campers allowed? How is homesickness handled?
8. Are references from parents of repeat campers available? Ask the parents about their child's experience and why they recommend the camp.
9. Finally, look for camps that are certified by the American Camp Association <>. ACA-accredited camps have met up to 300 nationally recognized standards.

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