I know it’s the middle of winter, but finding camps, whether it be for holiday breaks, summer day camp or over-night camp is a major issue for Central Iowa parents, looking to keep their kids busy and engaged. So, the subject of camp will be a recurring topic here on dsm4kids. I thought today, would be a good opportunity to discuss getting prepared for camp, where to look for camps and when to start registering for camp.
Getting Prepared for Camp
When talking about camp, there really are two different types. The more traditional overnight camp and day camp. For overnight camp, the length of stay ranges from one to two nights to eight weeks and they offer a wide range of activities.
Day camps offer shorter sessions, usually lasting anywhere from a week to six weeks and they also offer a wide range of activities. There are camps and programs for everything you can think of, so it really comes down to determining what your child’s needs are and what works best for your family.
Some questions to consider when determining what camp is right:
- Is your kid (and you) ready for overnight camp?
- How far away are you comfortable with them going?
- What are the transportation requirements?
- Are you able to drop off and pick up every day? Can you car pool?
- Do your kids have friends going to camp? Do they need to have a friend at camp?
- What length of time works best?
- What size camp would work best; a big camp or a smaller, more personal environment?
- What activities would your child enjoy most?
- How much structure do you want your child to have while at camp?
- Would a general camp, specialty camp, or special needs camp be preferable?
Where to Look
One you’ve determined what type of camp best suits your child’s needs, the next step is finding a camp.
Some places to look:
- Childcare Programs
- Fine Arts Programs (Dance Studios, Music Instructors, Theaters and Community Theaters)
- Museums and Libraries
- Non-Profit Organizations (Children and Family Supportive Programs)
- Parks and Recreation Departments
- Pediatricians/Specialists (Special Needs Camps)
- Retail Establishments (Kil’n Time, Pump It Up, Michael’s, etc.)
- Schools and Universities (Community Education, Newsletters)
- Sports Programs
- Youth Groups (Church, Scouts, 4-H, etc.)
When to Register
It’s never too early to start registering for camp, especially summer camps. Most Central Iowa day camps start posting registration applications in February and March. Keep in mind popular camps can fill up almost immediately. When registering cost is always a concern. The good news is that there are camps for almost every budget.
You may also be able to reduce costs by asking the right questions:
- What is the refund policy?
Refund policies will vary from camp to camp. Some refund for illness only, some will give a total refund prior to a certain date and some do not refund at all. Some camps will ask for a non-refundable deposit at the time of application, which may or may not go toward the cost of tuition.
- Is there financial assistance available?
Many camps offer scholarships for part or all of the tuition costs, but parents need to ask if they are available. A lot of scholarships are awarded based on need, but do not assume that you make too much to qualify. Also, a lot of scholarships are awarded on a first come first serve basis, so it is important to apply early.
- What is included in the tuition?
Overnight camps may offer limited transportation. Day camps will typically include transportation to field trips as part of their tuition. Other items to ask about are fees for special programs and trips, laundry service, special equipment that is required and memberships. Also, ask if it is appropriate to send spending money with your child.
- Are special discounts available?
Often, camps will offer special discounts for early registration, full-season enrollment and enrollment of multiple family members.
What are your suggestions for getting kids ready for camp in Central Iowa?