BBB offers tips for finding a safe summer camp for your kids

John North, Dayton Better Business Bureau president. CONTRIBUTED

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John North, Dayton Better Business Bureau president. CONTRIBUTED

Summer is right around the corner. According to the American Camp Association (ACA), almost 7.2 million kids will be heading to over 10,000 camps in the United States. With so many camps to choose from, how do you know which one will fit your child’s needs and keep them safe? Better Business Bureau wants to aid you in that decision with advice on choosing the perfect summer camp for your child.

BBB advises parents to look past the flashy-looking brochures and websites when searching for a camp. Your child’s safety, health and satisfaction should be the camp’s main priority.

When deciding on a camp, parents should use the same guidelines used when choosing a day care program. Look for a camp that provides activities your child would be interested in and are appropriate for his or her age level. Camps can be centered around different things and can be highly structured to develop specific skills in your child, ranging from biology and astronomy camps to gymnastics and soccer camps. Other camps are more flexible and have a wide range of activities for your child to choose from. Try asking your child, if they are old enough, what they would be interested in. Your child’s interests should guide you in choosing an appropriate camp.

However, before deciding, parents need to research camps. Ask how long the camp has been in business and check with parents and kids that have been to the camps. Visit your final choices and inspect facilities, check out the staff’s training, their experience and make sure to find out how medical emergencies are handled. If the camp is an overnight camp, inspect cabins, showers and any other major facilities on the grounds. Also, visit the ACA website for more information.

BBB offers these additional tips:

• Visit the camp before submitting your deposit.

• Ask about fees and payment deadlines. Is your deposit refundable? Are there extra charges for any activities? Are meals and transportation offered?

• What is the camp’s return rate? What about the counselor’s return rate?

• What is the camp directors background? How is staff trained? Are criminal checks made for employees and volunteers? What is the ratio of campers to staff members?

• Are medical facilities adequate? Is a nurse or doctor on site? Are medical facilities close by?

• What are the safety rules and how are they enforced?

• Does the camp have appropriate insurance?

• Ask to see a typical daily schedule.

• Are family visits and other communications with campers allowed?

• Obtain references.

• Check to see if the camps are accredited by the ACA. These camps meet up to 300 nationally recognized standards.

BBB can provide a list of BBB Accredited camps. It can also give you a Business Profile on each camp you’re considering. Go to www.bbb.org or call (937) 222-5825.

John North is president of the Dayton Better Business Bureau.

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