Sending your child off to summer camp will undoubtedly fill them with joy and excitement at the prospect of being away from home for a week whilst making new friends and doing some fun activities. But for you it may fill you with dread at the thought of being without them for so long or the possibilities of things going wrong.
However, you don’t have to worry – there’s lots of information out there about sending your child to camp, and here are just a few of the practical things you should know before you wave them off.
Summer camps should be treated like any other holiday and with that in mind you should get some insurance to cover your child when they are away.
Lots of sports insurance companies will offer cover for summer camps and the summer camp you’re sending your child to may even offer their own insurance at a special rate tailor made to the activities they offer.
Insurance will cover accidents, liabilities and personal possessions – things that your standard insurance may not cover because of the type of environment the summer camp entails.
Some summer camps will let you come and visit before you decide to send your children there, so if you have any worries you can pop along before making a final decision.
Whilst there is no formal regulatory body for summer camps in the UK, institutions such as Ofsted and the British Activity Holiday Association (BAHA) are used to perform checks and ratings on camps in the UK. Visit their websites to see their analysis and compare your chosen summer camps.
Don’t forget, your children will be doing a lot of practical activities so practical clothing will be needed. Pack plenty of clothes suitable for getting muddy and make sure they have lots, so they don’t need to worry about running out of clean clothes.
Don’t be tempted to pack anything valuable – the risk of it getting lost, damaged or stolen could be quite high, and they probably won’t need it. After all, they will be busy making new friends and doing new activities so packing their Nintendo DS or iPad might be a bit unnecessary.
Remember to advise staff if your child has any medical conditions. They’ll supervise your child’s medication intake and keep this information to hand in case of an emergency.
Most parents will want to take their kids right to the door of summer camp, which is usually the most popular option.
However, for those without convenient transport or who live far away, some summer camps will arrange to pick up your children from local train stations near to the camp and drop them off there when camp is over.
Everyone that works at the summer camp will be trained to deal with children’s concerns and worries. When your child arrives they will be given a team leader which will be their point of contact if they have any concerns or worries.
Most summer camps don’t allow the usage of mobile phones or other technology, meaning that your child is encouraged to go to a member of staff before contacting you. This means that cases of homesickness can be remedied a lot easier by staff that will encourage your child to join in.
Of course, if there is any major cause for concern, staff members will contact you, and similarly you can contact the camp if you feel there are any urgent issues.
Camp Beaumont, who has been running summer camps for over 30 years, has an extensive parents area on their website which outlines many of the common queries and problems parents may have before summer camp begins.
There’s also a forum and a detailed welcome pack that can be a great reference even if your child is attending a different camp.
Most summer camps in the UK take place on school grounds, or grounds that are regulated like a school, meaning that all visitors must be accounted for and all members of staff must wear visible badges that affiliate them to the camp.
At night a team of staff will look after the camp, ensuring the children stay in their quarters and that no other security is compromised.
One of the best things you can do if you have any other queries is to simply contact the camp you’re sending your child to. Staff are friendly and have years of experience dealing with all kinds of children, so will be able to answer any questions you may have.