8 Tips for Choosing the Right Camp for Your Daughter (or Son)

Starting to look at summer camps for your children? We'd like to thank Samantha Razook Murphy, mom of two girls, and founder of Curious Jane, coming to the Winsor School in Brookline this summer, for these tips to keep in mind as you assess the different options for your daughters (and sons!).

Read on for her tips, and read more about her Curious Jane and other camps in our Camps for Girls post.

1. Ask your child what she really likes to do. Rather than ask what camp she wants to attend, ask about her favorite activities, in and out of school. If she loves math, look for a math or architecture camp. With so many options available these days, you can find programs to match, and summer camps are a great way to let her explore interests that are not a prominent part of her school-year environment.

2. Talk to other moms. Find out which summer camps their girls have enjoyed, and why. You'll learn about more options and find out which ones have strong positive feedback.

3. Ask a teacher. Classroom teachers and specialty teachers (music, science, etc) are often very tuned in to what excites your child and what doesn't. They may be able to make a great – and unexpected -- recommendation for summer activities.

4. Spend some time online. The idea of a juggling camp for skateboard ingénues may not have crossed your mind, but it’s probably out there! Spend some time searching for cool camps – you’ll be surprised by what you find.

5. Ask a camp. If you find a camp that seems ideal but is filled, or not for the right ages, or not the right dates, or so on... ask the directors if they can point you in the direction of something similar. Camps know other camps.

6. Know the size. The size of a camp could be 10 children or 100 children. If your daughter is overwhelmed by large groups and events, a smaller program - or a large program with small breakout groups - may be perfect.

7. Find out about trips. Camps vary widely on day trips. Some take a trip every day, while others, not at all. Know your child and what suits her best. Trips can be a nice change from the everyday, but they can also be exhausting and stressful, especially on hot days or in large groups.

8. Strike a balance. Don't stress about finding one 10-week camp that fits all your family's needs. Find a couple of different programs that give your child a little of this and a little of that. Balance sports with arts with nature. Balance camps where your child attends with a friend with programs that she attends on her own. And don't drive yourself crazy: Find camps that make your commute easy, that are fun and flexible, and that offer the hours you need. Find a balance in activities as well as in routine. Smooth mornings set everyone off to a good start, and an engaging day brings you back together more fulfilled.

If you have your own tips that guide your camp selections, please let us know in the comments section, below.

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