What to Look for in a Sleepaway Camp

By: Fernando Pages Ruiz

For most parents, leaving kids at the mercy of total strangers makes sleepaway camp a thorny proposition. Sure, the kids might gain a little independence and maturity, but who's going to watch after them as closely as you? Good question, and good reason to check any camp thoroughly before sending your kids.

Just because a camp accepts kids with ADD, as most will, doesn't mean they know how to work constructively with your child. Even when learning and growth are involved, camp should be safe, supportive and lots of fun. To help assure your child has a positive camping experience, here are a few tips on picking the right camp:

  • Ask around: Parents of other ADD kids can provide recommendations.
  • Drop by: Visit a camp with your child to inspect the premises and get a feel for the staff.
  • Interview the staff: Find out what training they have for dealing with ADD.
  • Interview the director: See if his educational philosophy is in sync with your parenting philosophy.
  • Get the numbers: ADD kids require a higher ratio of counselors to campers, preferably six or fewer kids to each counselor.
  • Ask about turnover: How many counselors come back every year? Look for 60 percent or more.
  • Check the facilities: Do the sleeping quarters look comfortable and clean? What's the plan for nighttime security?
  • Check with the local health department: Find out if the camp has a good health and safety record.
  • Look at the menu: Do the meals look appetizing and healthful? Does a nutritionist select them?
  • Contact other parents: Every camp has a few gushing testimonials. Ask for a random call list of recent attendees and contact them.
  • Follow your intuition: If anything "feels" out of place, dig deeper.

For more camping advice, visit us on the web at additudemag.com

Additional resources

Happy Camping!

Fernando Pages Ruiz Article excerpts reprinted with permission from the March/April 2002 issue of ADDitude Magazine