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How to Easily Plan for Your Child's Summer Camp

How to Easily Plan for Your Child's Summer Camp

A month-by-month timeline to get your child (and you!) ready for summer camp

It can be overwhelming to decide how to pick a summer camp for your child, and it often seems like there is an endless list of things to do before your kids can actually go to camp. How do you pick the right camp? What should you ask the camp director before sending your kids away for the summer? What should you pack your kids for their time at summer camp? Don't worry: We've got all the answers to those questions! Check out our full timeline for the camp countdown, with instructions about what to do each month of the year when it comes to camp planning. Is it time for camp yet?

It’s not too early to think about summer camp! If you are considering day or sleepaway camp, there are ways to research and plan for camp throughout the year. The American Camp Association, New York and New Jersey suggests the following month-by-month timeline with ways to plan for your child’s summer camp experience.


Planning for Summer Camp in October & November

Attend open houses. Many camps have open houses and fall festivals that provide opportunities to see the camp facilities and get a feel for the camp. It is also a good opportunity for you to get to know the camp director and ask questions about the camp philosophy and program while in the camp setting.

Search for camp with your child. Take some time to look over a camp’s website, brochure, and video together. They will give you and your child a sense of what a particular camp is like. Most camp websites have photo slide shows, videos, virtual tours, and maps, which will give you a glimpse of the camp and the camp program. The more involved your child feels in the decision of choosing a camp, the more successful the camp experience will be.

Look for camp early for savings. If you’ve already decided on a camp for your child, don’t wait to register. Many camps offer early-bird  discounts. Registering early can be a real savings for parents—and it ensures your child won’t be shut out of the camp program he wants. Ask the camp if it offers payment plans, which can make it easier to pay for camp. Some camps also allow you to prepay the camp season and will give you a significant discount.

Planning for Summer Camp in December & January

Talk to camp directors. Speaking with the camp director and asking some key questions is a good way to find out about a camp’s philosophy and see if it matches your own. Get to know the camp director through phone calls, correspondence, and in person. Make sure to give the director an accurate picture of your child and what your specific goals are for her camp experience.

Make camp part of holidays. Instead of purchasing another toy for your child, make camp a holiday gift.

Prepare your child for overnights. If you are considering sleepaway camp, schedule sleepovers with friends and relatives and make sure these overnights are successful. If your child feels panicked and needs to come home in the middle of the night, he may not be ready for sleepaway camp.

Planning for Summer Camp in February & March

Schedule home visits and attend camp fairs. These are both good ways to get to know a camp director and a camp program. Ask about the camp’s mission statement and what type of child is successful at camp. Camp fairs bring dozens of camps to a community and provide parents the opportunity to speak 1-on-1 with many different directors in one day. Often times, a camp director will come to you for a home visit, which allows you to get to know the director and for the director to get to know your family.

Planning for Summer Camp in April & May

Share positive messages. As camp approaches, talk to your child about the camp program and the activities she will be participating in. Let your child know you are confident in her ability to have a successful camp experience.

Planning for Summer Camp in June

Pack together. If your child is going to overnight camp, pack together. Your child will feel more secure if he knows what he is bringing to camp. Use this time talk with your child about how much fun camp is going to be.

Mail a letter to camp. Send a letter to sleepaway camp, so your child has a letter the first day she is at camp. Let her know how much fun she is going to have at camp.

Planning for Summer Camp in July & August

Camp season is here!

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Author: Jess Michaels is the director of communications for the American Camp Association, New York and New Jersey. She believes every child should have a summer camp experience. See More

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