Choosing a summer camp for your child can be quite difficult. You want to make sure they’re safe, that they enjoy themselves, and that they learn something during their time away from home. To guarantee a camp meets all your objectives, there are many research areas to cover.
This article discusses these basic research areas and presents the different questions you should ask yourself when researching camp options. For a complete guide to choosing a summer camp for your child, click below to download the eBook.
How to choose a summer camp
Step one: Decide between a day camp or a sleep-away residential camp.
Ask yourself these questions when choosing a summer camp to help you decide which is the better option:
1. How old is my child?
Day camps are better suitable for young children. Most children from ages 6 – 9 aren’t used to sleeping anywhere without their parents nearby. If your child doesn’t typically spend time away from home, wait a year or two before you send them to a residential camp. Try to prepare them for this journey during those one or two years.
2. Are my funds limited?
Summer camps can be expensive. Day camps are almost always cheaper than residential camps. Therefore, if you’re trying to keep your child entertained all summer long, sign them up for a day camp, and you’ll be able to sign them up for many more weeks than you would with a residential camp.
3. Do I want this camp to be just a FUN experience or also a LEARNING experience?
While day camps are certainly fun, residential camps are fun AND they teach children necessary life skills such as social skills and intercultural communication, self-esteem and confidence, and more. For a complete list of the BENEFITS of residential camps, click HERE.
Additionally, residential sports camps offer a more complete experience which means more training hours or more language class hours or both. Participants also spend more overall time with their fellow campers which leads to more lifelong friendships and unforgettable memories.
Step two: Determine the general purpose of sending your child to a summer camp.
There are 3 general purposes of summer camps – entertainment, sports improvement, linguistic immersion. Depending on the purpose of sending your child to a summer camp, you’ll want to ask yourself a specific series of important questions when choosing a summer camp. Check them out below.
If you’re looking for entertainment, ask yourself the following questions:
If you’re looking for a camp simply to entertain your child for 2-4 weeks during the summer, you should be choosing a summer camp full of activities and excursions with facilities that could entertain your child.
1. How much time is dedicated to free time, excursions, and activities in comparison to time dedicated to training?
Some offer many hours of sports training and few hours of free time. Others offer many hours of free time and few hours of sports training. If you’re choosing a summer camp for the purpose of simply entertaining your child, maybe they’d like more free time and less training.
2. What kinds of activities are offered?
Some camps have very complete social programs where children spend all most all their free time participating in activities which could include karaoke, talent shows, Ping-Pong competitions, etc. Other camps give the participants more free time where they find their own entertainment. What style does your child prefer? Organized entertainment or free time?
3. What kind of facilities does the residence and campus have that could entertain my child?
Some camps have more facilities than others both in the residence and on the camp campus. Residential facilities could include game rooms with table games (Ping-Pong, pool, air hockey) and TV rooms. Campus facilities could include basketball courts, tennis courts, or a pool. If you’re choosing a summer camp to entertain your child, ask yourself if your child would enjoy the camp facilities.
4. What excursions are there?
Many camps offer excursions to nearby cities, famous stadiums, or even amusement parks. Will your child be entertained by these excursions? If the featured excursion of a camp is a trip to a nearby stadium, and your child doesn’t even have much interest in the sport, they won’t be very entertained.
5. Is there an additional cost? Or are the excursions included?
Most excursions are included in the price of the camp, but it´s always a good idea to double check.
If you’re looking for your child to improve their sport performance, ask yourself the following questions:
If you’re looking for a camp to improve your child’s sports performance you should pay attention to the training, the coaching, and whether or not there are any sports-education extras at the camp. We explain in the video below.
1. What is the level of the training?
Some camps are for more advanced athletes who already have extensive knowledge of the sport. If your child is already involved in the sport and has been practicing for some years and considers themselves serious about the sport, they could be happy at this kind of camp.
Other camps are for all levels. If your child is just starting to get involved in a sport, they should definitely attend a camp for all levels. Nevertheless, even more advanced athletes could enjoy these all-level camps; usually the children practice in smaller groups with other participants who have the same level of skills.
2. How many hours of training are offered?
If a child really wants to improve their skill level, they’ll need to practice for many hours. Make sure you check how many hours per week participants train. Some more expensive camps offer less practice time and some cheaper camps offer more practice time. Price is no indication of the amount of training your child will receive.
3. What other kind of sports education is offered besides on field training?
Theory workshops – Many more advanced sports camps offer theory workshops. Students enter classrooms with their coaches where they discuss strategy and tactics.
Video analysis – Many camps also offer video analysis sessions where they either watch professional matches or the participants’ performance in weekend match play and discuss good decision making, bad decision making, tactics, strategy, etc.
Health and nutrition workshops – Some camps take health and nutrition very seriously and fit nutrition workshops into their timetables. They teach participants how to eat right and sustain their performance.
Athlete performance reports – Some camps also offer performance reports for the participants where they either rate their improvement or present the players’ strengths and weaknesses.
4. Who is in charge?
This question deals with both the club who hosts the camp and the camp coaches. Camps affiliated with clubs teach participants to play according to the philosophy of the club. Therefore, it would be a good idea to choose to train with a club whose philosophy is successful or at least of interest to your child. Don’t make your child go to a camp from a rival team.
If you’re choosing a summer camp to improve your child's language skills, ask yourselves these questions:
First make sure the camp offers the language classes you need, then think about the camps location, whether or not there are native teachers, how many hours of classes the camp offers, the style of the classes, and the nationalities of other camp participants.
1. Where does the camp take place?
Does the camp take place in a country where they speak this language natively? If so, there’s a better chance they’ll use the language more often, for example, during excursions to nearby cities.
2. Are there native teachers?
If you’re really hoping your child improves their second (or third) language, it’s important that they’re exposed to native accents. Check to make sure the teachers are native speakers of the language being learned.
3. How many hours of language classes are there?
Some camps offer even more hours of language classes than sports training. Others offer very few hours of language classes.
4. What is the language school’s philosophy? How are the classes taught?
Many camps integrate sport into the English classes. Even so, some camps stick to traditional classes which take place in the classrooms. Other camps offer more interactive classes where the children, for example, walk onto the field and perform mock sports interviews.
How is your child more comfortable learning? More outgoing children might prefer more interactive classes while more reserved children would prefer traditional bookwork. Or maybe, your child needs a little help stepping out of their comfort zone and would benefit from such activities. Take all of this into account when choosing a summer camp.
5. What is the nationality ratio of the camp?
The nationality ratio is important because even if the camp takes place abroad where your child should experience immersion, if all the camp participants speak the child’s first language, they’re not going to be forced to use their second language and they won’t learn much.
In fact, if you want your child to really experience immersion and practice their second language, you should look for camps in which less than 20% of participants speak your child’s native language.
Step 3: Consider other important factors.
The following concerns don’t usually make or break a camp’s potential, but maybe for you they do. It could be a good idea to find out the following info. before choosing a summer camp.
1. Will my child have to travel to and from training every day? Or are the training and accommodation in the same place?
This is a minor issue but it could help you choose between one camp and another similar camp. Find out how much time they’ll spend on a bus every day.
2. What is the ratio of monitors to campers?
When participants arrive at most camps, they break up into groups. The ration of monitors to campers indicates the size of the groups. The smaller the groups, the more highly supervised the children will be and vice versa.
3. What kind of food does the camp serve?
Some camps have more flexible menus than other camps with specific vegetarian options etc. Some camps have stricter menus than others where the nutrition of the children is carefully monitored. Other camps let the kids have more freedom choosing what they’d like to eat. Would you like your child to be more closely monitored in terms of their diet? Or do you prefer them to have more freedom?
Step 4: Decide if you want to book directly with the camp or with an agency.
Ask yourself these questions to help deciding if booking with an agency is the right option for you:
1. Do I want to send my child to a day camp?
Book directly with the camp. Most agencies don’t offer day camp options because they are more helpful when dealing with larger sums of money where more risk is involved.
2. Do I want unbiased, honest advice about which camp to choose?
Book with an agency. Most agencies offer a wide range of camps to choose from. In our case, we offer a wide range of camps, and we work with only the best camps in the world with the highest customer satisfaction rating. In fact, in the past, we’ve had to stop working with camps because our customers weren’t 100% satisfied. This way, we’ve managed to keep our promise to only offer the best. Therefore, there’s no reason for bias toward some camps. We just want to help you find the camp that best suits your needs and the needs of your child.
3. Do I find the process a bit overwhelming? Are visas involved? Does arranging travel plans seem daunting?
Book with an agency. Agencies, like Ertheo, take care of all the hand stuff. We walk you through the process so you can be sure that your child arrives safe and sound and enjoys the experience.
4. Am I limited on funds?
Book directly with the camp. Booking with an agency can be more expensive than booking directly with a camp. Certain questions and doubts however may arise when choosing this option: Is this camp truly a great camp? Am I choosing the right camp? Or would my son or daughter be healthy elsewhere?
5. Are there just too many things to consider?
Do you find all these questions about choosing a summer camp to be difficult to answer on your own? Do you not have the time to research all the answers? Book with Ertheo!
The best news is that we are experts in the camps that we offer! We know which camps have more activities or fewer activities. We know which camps offer more intensive training and which camps are better for entertainment. We can help you find the perfect camp to suit your needs and the needs of your child. You have a question about a camp? We have the answer.
Ertheo is a sports and education agency dedicated to empowering young athletes to reach their full potential as athletes and upstanding citizens.
Our team is available to answer all of your questions and offer expert advice.
Call us at (+44) 203 769 94 43 or (+34) 902 750 359.