BBB: How to choose the right summer camp for your child

Dozens of movies have been made about capturing the nostalgia and friendship of summer camp. And why not? It is an exciting time in a child’s life where memories and friendships can be made that last a lifetime. Whether it is a day camp or a sports camp at a local university, Better Business Bureau serving the Heart of Texas recommends parents look beyond professional-looking brochures and websites. A child’s safety, health and satisfaction should be the camp’s top priority.

According to the American Camp Association (ACA), more than 14 million children and adults attend camp each year, and there are more than 14,000 day and resident camps across the U.S. It’s great to have options, but with so many to choose from it can be an intimidating task.

Before beginning the search, it is important to know your child’s personality to identify which program will benefit him or her most. It’s also important to include your child in the decision-making process.

BBB offers the following advice for parents searching for the right camp:

  • Start with research. Find trustworthy camps by checking the company’s BBB Business Profile on You will find important background information, such as how long it has been in business, advertising issues, ownership information and complaint history.
  • Look for certification. Find out if it is certified by the ACA. The organization requires camps to meet up to 300 nationally-recognized standards.
  • Visit the camp in person. This will be your opportunity to check out living, dining, recreational facilities and meet staff members. Be sure to ask about safety procedures and how rules are enforced.
  • Assess the quality of staff. Find out the camp director’s background, the criteria used for hiring staff and whether certification in CPR and First Aid is required. It is also important to know the ratio of staff to campers. Parents sending children to specialty camps should inquire about the staff’s level of expertise in the specialized area.
  • Know the fees and payment policies. What is the total cost of tuition? Is your money refundable should the camp be canceled? Are there extra charges for any activities? Are meals and transportation included? Make sure all these details are included in your contract.
  • Ask about medical care. Find out if an infirmary and/or nurse or doctor is on-site. Inquire about the procedures for transporting injured or sick children to nearby medical facilities and under what circumstances you will be notified of any problems.