Now is the time to plan for summer camp, say experts.
Photo courtesy of Norwood School
Summer Camp Fair
The Northern Virginia Camp and Summer Fun Expo
Feb. 20-21, Saturday, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., Sunday, 11 a.m.–4 p.m.
2100 Dulles Town Circle, Dulles
Under a blanket of February frost, summer might seem light years away, but it’s closer than one might think. As coveted slots fill at some of the area’s most sought-after camps, now is the time to begin planning, say camp directors. With options ranging from sailing to fencing, narrowing down the decision can be daunting. That’s why local camp fairs can be a valuable one-stop-shopping service for choosing summer activities. Hundreds of camp representatives will be on hand for the Northern Virginia Camp and Summer Fun Expo on Feb. 20-21 at 2100 Dulles Town Circle, Dulles.
“We will have a lot of exhibitors in one location so that parents can see a variety of camps to make sure that their children have a fun summer,” said Samantha Carter of Washington Parent, the event’s sponsor. “There are programs to fit every budget.”
Camp fairs, says Carter, offer parents an opportunity to meet representatives from a variety of camps, gather information and ask questions. “We have camps from all up and down the eastern seaboard, even as far away as Maine.”
With so many choices, narrowing the list of options can leave many parents feeling flummoxed. Camp experts shared a few key factors parents should consider before settling on summer camps to help avert unpleasant surprises.
“First, I think that parents should take their children into consideration, and the kinds of activities they like to do and whether they are being offered at the camps they are looking at.”
— Kevin Rechen, Summer Camp director, Norwood School in Bethesda, Md.
“First, I think that parents should take their children into consideration, and the kinds of activities they like to do and whether they are being offered at the camps they are looking at,” said Kevin Rechen, Summer Camp director for Norwood School in Bethesda, Md.
It’s a good idea to inquire about the camper to staff ratios and the types of staff the camp will hire, such as adult teachers or activity specialists. “Who are the individuals who will watch over the campers and what kinds of licenses do they have?” asks Francesca Reed, a mother of two and associate vice president for Enrollment Management at Marymount University in Arlington.
Safety and medical considerations are also key factors to consider, especially for children who have allergies or other medical issues. “Is there a nurse on site?” asks Stacie Gottlieb, director of Summer Programs at Bullis School in Potomac, Md. “What safety and medical procedures [does the camp] have in place?”
Reed suggests parents also inquire about a camp’s drop off and pick up times, availability of after-care services and whether fees are charged for late arrivals. “Some of the basic questions are the cost and any additional fees that might not be apparent,” said Reed. “Find out the camp’s reimbursement policy in case you have to cancel before camp starts or while it’s in session.”
For parents who have more than one child who will attend camp, Rechen suggests looking for camps that offer an assortment of activities that appeal to children of different ages. “For the sake of convenience, it’s key for a lot of parents to have all of their children in one camp, so they don't have to make multiple trips each and every day,” he said. “Having a variety of programs for a wide age range also allows younger children to see the activities that they have to look forward to as they get older.”