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  • Writer's pictureVicky Keston

Summer Camp Search

It’s the time of year when summer camp registrations start filling up, and parents who need summer childcare stress about finding a great option for their children. From my other job as co-founder of Renegade Tinkering Club, plus as a mom of two kids, I share my own criteria for camp.

My kid’s interests and opinions

My kids are happiest when given an opportunity to delve deeply into one of their interests. Whether coding, engineering, or gymnastics, my kids have strong opinions of what they like. At the end of a week, do my children feel like they learned something? Did they have fun? Do they want to return?

Safety

Camps are not regulated and rarely accredited. Some critical factors to ask the camp:

  • Do you run a background check on employees? LiveScan is a standard in schools, and is run by the CA Department of Justice, but some camps might use a private solution or no solution at all.

  • What is your procedure for field trips or offsite playground time? How many adults are with how many children?

  • How often do you run attendance or head count to ensure that all children are accounted for?

  • How are your employees trained? Do you have onsite employees with training in first aid, CPR, and your safety procedures?

  • What are your criteria for when to contact parents?

Communications

Does the camp contact you before camp with key facts, such as where and when to drop off? Do they call you if your child is injured? Do they send a newsletter after camp with what the kids did all week?

Financials

Can I afford the camp? Do they offer financial aid for those who cannot? Diversity is a core value for us, and sliding scale programs ensure that my daughter and her friends can enroll in the same programs, without leaving a lower income kid out.

Location and Multiple Kids

Critical to most parents, a location that works near home or work, and also near where the other sibling will attend that week. Ideally, my child and sibling or a friend who can carpool are in camp together. The worst weeks are those where my kids are in opposite directions from home, adding to my stress and ensuring the need for extra help.

Need more help?

In addition to Vicky’s school consulting, she is a co-founder of Renegade Girls Tinkering Club, a 501(c)(3) that offers coed and girls-only STEM summer camps and enrichment.

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