10 things to consider when choosing a summer camp for your Birmingham kids

Birmingham, Camp Seale Harris, diabetic camp
Photo via Camp Seale Harris.

Summer vacation is just a few weeks away, which means you are probably asking yourself what your kids will do all summer. If hearing the words “I’m bored!” for weeks on end has you stressing out, how about sending them to summer camp? If you’re not sure where to start, then consider these ten things when looking for the perfect camp for your kids.

1. Prior Experience

Did your kids attend summer camp last year? If so, then you may want to consider sending them back for another year. But before you do, ask yourself these important questions first:

  • Did your kids enjoy it?
  • Can you afford it?
  • Has the camp undergone any changes since last year that may alter the price or your children’s expectations?
Birmingham, McWane Science Center, summer camp
Photo via McWane Science Center.
  1. Summer Plans

Before registering for camp, consider your family’s summer calendar. Got big vacation plans in the works? Be sure to work around these other family obligations so your kids won’t miss out on any of the fun!

Dance, Soccer, Princess or Chess: All four camps follow VBS at Asbury United Methodist Church (June 25-28) allowing for a full-day option! More camps available in July and August!

3. Budget

Filling your child’s days with summer camp fun can add up. So, before you begin your search, it’s important to set a budget and figure out how much you can spend per child. Some camp programs offer family discounts for those who are registering more than one child, so keep an eye out for these ways to save.

It may be difficult to find a summer camp for under $200 to $300 a week, so be realistic when creating your budget.

A week of fun and learning awaits your child at McWane Science Center Summer Camp. Weekly camps begin on June 4th and end on August 8th. PreK-Kindergarten camps are from 9am–1pm. Camps for students entering 1st through 7th grade are 9am–4pm.

4. Hours

When deciding on the best summer camp for your kids, you will need to ensure it is in session during times that work with your busy schedule. This is typically a concern for day camps that begin in the morning and end in the afternoon.

Will you be able to pick your kids up from a camp that dismisses at noon or 3pm? Or do you need the camp to run until at least 5pm? Are optional after-care services available?

Birmingham, Once Upon a Fairytale Camp, The Dance Foundation
Once Upon a Fairytale Camp. Photo via The Dance Foundation in Birmingham.
5. Location

The location of your child’s camp will play a large role in whether it is the right place for you and your kids – especially when it comes to day camp. How far are you able to drive for morning delivery and afternoon pick up each day?

Make that commute easier on everyone and choose a camp that is within a reasonable driving distance. Traffic and weather delays can happen. Avoid missed time at work and save some gas money while you’re at it!

6. Interests

When deciding which camp is best for your kids, consider not only their interests but also the opportunity to introduce them to new activities. Does your child love to swim? Perhaps a waterfront camp by the lake with not only swimming, but also fishing, kayaking or paddle boarding could teach them a fun new skill. Does your child love art? Then a camp with instruction in several different mediums of art could be a perfect fit.

Make the most of your child’s summer camp experience by seeking out programs your kids can both learn from and get excited about.

7. Special Needs

Concerned about meeting the special needs of your child – but still want them to have a meaningful camp experience? There are many camps out there specifically designed to cater to a wide range of abilities. From learning differences and sensory issues to physical disabilities such as diabetes, asthma and arthritis, there is a camp for every kid!

Birmingham, Camp Seale Harris, diabetic camps, summer camps
Counselors and campers at Camp Seale Harris. Photo via Camp Seale Harris.
8. Staff

Whether you send your child to a day camp or a resident camp that lasts for several weeks, of course you’ll want to ensure they will be safe while away from home. Do a little online research on camp websites to check out the camp staff. Some camps even hold “open house days” where families are welcome to poke around, meet the staff in person, and get a feel for the place. Scout around!

Here are some things you may want to find out ahead of time:

Are counselors first-aid and CPR-certified?

  • What kind of training do staff and counselors have?
  • Is the camp accredited by the American Camp Association?
9. Overnight camp

If you’re thinking about sending your kids to overnight residence camp, then the big question is – are they ready?

Consider these things:

  • Has your child successfully stayed overnight at a friend’s house? Did he/she have fun?
  • Can your child take care of basic needs (dressing themselves, showering, brushing teeth and hair)?

If your child has not yet done these things independently, see about setting up an overnight sleepover at a best friend’s house. Don’t worry if it turns out that your child isn’t quite ready for “sleep-away” camp. The Birmingham area has many day camps to choose from to enable your child to dip a toe in the camp experience for just a few hours at a time.

Birmingham, Asbury United Methodist Church, summer camp
Photo via Asbury United Methodist Church.
  1. Reviews

If you’re a first-timer, it’s a good idea to get reviews from parents and kids who have attended a specific camp. You can often find reviews online, but getting feedback from people you know is even better.

Ask fellow parents and your kids’ teachers for recommendations about what camps they have attended or programs they have heard good things about. Did they like it? Did they have fun? Would they go back again?

Summer will be here before you know it – so make plans to register for an indoor or outdoor camp today. Let’s make some memories!

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Patience Itson
Patience Itson
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