THE BLOG

Choosing the Right Summer Day Camp for Your Kids

05/01/2012 01:15 pm ET | Updated Jul 01, 2012

By Dawn McAvoy, Chief Marketing Officer, Women & Co.

For me, signs that spring has arrived include: gradually warming temperatures, the first flower buds, my seasonal allergies and panicking about making arrangements for my kids to attend summer day camp. After years of motherhood, I still have a hard time planning my children's schedules months in advance. This year, however, I tackled it early. If planning your kids' summer activities is still on your to-do list, check out my top five considerations for selecting a day camp for children:

1. Distance
This is the first time my kids will leave the neighborhood for camp. They will take a bus for about 30 minutes. My oldest son gets car sick, so proximity to home was an important factor for us. Walking is ideal for me, but it limited our options, so I decided to take a chance on an air-conditioned bus.

2. Camp Activities
What do your kids like to do? My kids would spend the entire day in the water if they could. So, I chose a camp where they swim twice a day and have mostly outdoor activities so they will come home happy and tired. Other kids would hate to be playing in the sun and dirt all day. There is a surprisingly huge range of camp experiences. Pick the one that is best-suited for your child's interests.

3. Options and Flexibility
My kids' lives seem a lot more planned and regimented than mine was when I was younger. To me, summer is a great opportunity to let them make some decisions. I picked a camp where they could select the majority of their activities.

4. Reputation
Ask around and you will hear about everything camps don't include in the brochure. Also, check online reviews. Is the bus on time? Where and how do they recruit counselors? Do the kids come back every year?

5. Cost
Even day camps can be pricey so, for most people, cost will be a consideration. Obviously, you want to choose a camp within your budget. However, be sure to look closely at the numbers. I found that many camps had a lot of extra costs. For some, transportation wasn't included and that expense can be quite significant. Others charge extra for trips, extended hours, etc. Be sure to get all the numbers upfront.

Once you've narrowed your options, consider reaching out to the camp director or one of its representatives. Prepare a list of questions to get more detail around your primary concerns. You can also request a list of references to help make your decision. Speaking with families whose children have attended the camp can be an invaluable resource.

About the Author:
Dawn has over 15 years of experience in marketing and earned an MBA in Finance and Marketing from New York University--Leonard N. Stern School of Business.
Dawn has been a Women & Co. team member since 2001 and is responsible for researching women's financial needs and attitudes on behalf of Women & Co. Dawn is in charge of developing creative programs to raise awareness of women's distinct financial needs and how Women & Co. can help them strengthen their financial knowledge.