If you follow our blog you may have seen my post recently about the definition of camp. It’s something I feel strongly about.
When you’re shopping around for a summer camp for your child (and I do hope you shop around!), I hope you’ll consider carefully the qualifications of the director. A camp and it’s program are only as good as the person who acts as the driving force behind it.
While (obviously) I love MKDC with all my heart and believe it is an awesome place for a child to be, I also believe that the most important thing is for every child to have a quality camp experience, regardless of which camp you choose. It’s important to remember that there are hardly any regulations regarding who can start a summer camp, so the responsibility falls on YOU, the parent, to look carefully at ALL the facts before choosing a program.
When you speak with the director (and you SHOULD speak with the director before enrolling) here are some things to look for and/or ask about:
Child Development Qualifications
The key to running a camp that is beneficial for children is understanding the fundamental principals of child development. A diploma/degree in education, child & youth work, early childhood education or similar will provide you with confidence that the director understands children’s needs at each stage and is able to develop a program that is appropriate. Other desireable qualifications might include a parks & recreation or sports administration degree, coaching certifications, or camp director certification through a professional camping association.
There are many organizations (museums, athletic clubs, etc) that run programming for children in the summer. They are undoubtably very knowlegable in their field. But if they don’t have someone on staff who is trained specificially in child development they may not have the qualifications to best meet your child’s needs.
Prior Camp Experience
It stands to reason that a person in any position of authority would have experience in the field prior to being promoted. Does the camp director have experience working in the summer camp field as a counselor or other member of staff? Has the camp director worked at any other camps besides the one he/she currently operates? How long has the director been working in the camping field? How long has the camp itself been in operation, particularly with its current director?
A camp director who is serious about his/her job will take steps to connect with other camp professionals for the purposes of accreditation and to keep abreast of industry standards. Does the director belong to any professional associations such as the Ontario Camping Association?
Taking care of someone else’s children is serious business. A camp director who takes this responsibility seriously will always be on the lookout for ways to improve their skills and qualifications. Has the camp director recently taken any courses or attended any conferences in order to upgrade his/her skills & knowledge?
Definition of Camp
Finally, as I’ve said before, it’s important to find a camp that fits with your own definition – and that means finding a director whose vision you can identify with. Ask about the director’s goals for camp and what they hope to achieve for each camper. I personally believe that a true summer camp is much more than just a childcare option, a place to drop off your kids – that’s just babysitting. A REAL camp will provide an experience that enriches a child beyond the scope of a single workday. Camp should provide your child with a unique, welcoming community that creates opportunity for long-term growth.