Finding the right summer camp for your children is like sliding on Cinderella’s glass slipper: when it fits, it fits! But you might have to sift through a few mismatches before you find the right one. Researching where to send your child to summer camp can be overwhelming, there’s so much to consider. If you don’t know where to start, you’re not alone. Here are the most important questions to ask when choosing the perfect summer camp for your kids.
What is the camp’s mission?
A Summer Camp’s mission is going to inform every aspect of their summer programming, so it’s important that their mission lines up with what you want your child’s experience at camp to be! Some summer camps make it their mission to teach self-reliance, some want to foster a connection with the outdoors. At CYJ Texas, our mission is right on our homepage:
“Since 1952, CYJ Texas has given thousands of Jewish children life-changing summers. We offer a fun, inclusive, challenging, action-packed, safe environment where campers can play, grow, and make lifelong friendships. Year after year our campers go home with a love of Judaism and a strong connection to Israel. We foster personal growth by encouraging all our kids to try new things and build new skills each and every summer.”
Lifelong friendships, a strong connection to Israel and Judaism, and building new skills are all core to our program, as veteran CYJ families know well! When you’re researching a camp, make sure that you understand and are enthusiastic about their mission.
What does a day at camp look like?
You know your child better than anyone else, so you know what kinds of activities they’ll enjoy (or would enjoy if they gave them a try). If you have a child who’s miserable on boats, sailing camp might not be for them! Look through the camp’s website or email the director and ask for a description of a typical day at camp. The activities should be diverse, engaging, and age-appropriate. At a good summer camp, this information should be easy to find and understand. For example, we have a section of our website devoted to breaking down what a typical day at CYJ looks like for all age groups!
Does this camp have a good reputation?
If you know anyone who has sent their children to the summer camp you’re looking at, reach out to them and ask about their experience. Check out the online reviews and see what other parents have experienced. You could even reach out to a camp director and ask about their return rate: how many campers choose to come back to them year after year. A high rate is a sign of a great camp. At CYJ, we go on tour in the winter and visit homes and community gathering places all over Texas to make it as easy as possible for parents to meet us face to face and ask all of their questions about our camp. A good camp should have nothing to hide, and all of this should be fairly easy to find out.
It’s worth taking the time to really research a summer camp before trusting them with your child for the summer! And if you do your due diligence now, you’ll have peace of mind while your child is at camp, and your child is more likely to have a fantastic experience. At the end of the day, that’s what camp is all about!