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Top 4 Recommended Children's Summer Camp Sites

Authored By: Kyla Ludwig on 5/17/2021

Spring is my favorite time of year. The temps are rising, and I love the bright pops of color and floral scents in the air. I'm enjoying the blossoming season, but my mind is already jumping ahead to summer for a good reason. I want my kids to have a great summer and need to figure out the best options for summer camp. 

If the title of this post gave you the impression, I'm helping you find the best locations to pitch your tent or rent a cabin in the woods this summer; you'd be wrong. Instead, I hope it helps you find the right place for kids this summer. I get it; not just "any" place will do. A quality summer camp experience can help them grow, create lasting memories, and who knows -even build some new friendships along the way. Whether the camp you choose is focused on sports, education, skills building, nature or hobbies, there's sure to be something for every kid's unique needs and interests.

  

They'll remember what you did this summer.

Many parents find signing their kids up for camp intimidating. For a start, how do you know what's out there and how to find it. I've been fortunate to find a variety of camps offered in my surrounding community. It wasn't quick, though. I spent hours literally trying to work out the details: I'm now an old hand at the process. Let me start by saying it's near impossible to find a camp that checks all the boxes on your list. There's more to it than schedule, cost, and location. There are many benefits for kids attending summer camp, so it's worth the time! How I wish my kids could go back to their earlier years when I had them both attend the same camp all summer long. Now they have minds of their own. Their preferred interests and activities require me to do a bit more planning.

 

I recommend the following four websites to assist you in your search for the perfect summer camp experience.

American Camp Association (ACA)

acacamps.org

They have 3,776 camps, 10,926 programs, and 5,137 sessions in their search database as of the date I visited. I don't know about you, but those numbers have my head spinning. Where to start? Not to worry, their site offers a series of questions to help you narrow your search. All camps on their site are members of ACA and have been assessed for the quality of their programs. Some camps in their membership have even earned the distinction of being ACA Accredited. What does that mean? The American Camp Association is an organization whose purpose is to make sure camps live up to specific standards set forth by them in the camp industry.

There are many factors taken into consideration with their assessments. The accreditation is entirely voluntary. A camp can choose to participate by becoming a member of the American Camp Association. Membership demonstrates a camp's willingness to undergo a more thorough evaluation beyond most state licensing. The ACA judges camps based on their program offerings, structure, and administration. Safety, cleanliness, and other behind-the-scenes best practices are considered. They perform staff screenings and review the camp's employee training programs. The ACA encourages and monitors the operation of camps within their membership. The camp administrators are held accountable for maintaining a higher standard even after they pass the test. There's always room for improvement, and the ACA offers a "Toolbox" (online course) and other resources for staff training

Best part of their site...

ACA does the homework for you. They research, study, and evaluate camps based on criteria they have set forth clearly explained and outlined for you.   

What they could do better…

If a camp is not listed as an ACA accredited camp, it doesn't mean it's a lesser camp. It could simply mean the camp may not subscribe to ACA membership and therefore has not been submitted for an evaluation performed by the ACA organization

 

SummerCamps

SummerCamps.com

This site appears to be a one-stop-shop. It helps families "research, find and book the very best summer camps." Their site lets you start by selecting an activity of interest to your child. Then you choose an area for the camp based on city or zip. I like their site because it's easy to use, and I can quickly find summaries of each camp. One click takes you directly to the camp's website. They offer camps for various children, including special needs camps, faith-based camps, and even virtual online camps.

Best part of their site…

The organization and detailed "notecards" list of camp entries were fun to browse and scroll through.

What they could do better…

The text in their menu is small and crammed into one running line. The list could stand to be broken up into categories in a more organized fashion.

 

CampChannel

CampChannel.com

Much like SummerCamps.com, this site helps guide you through an interactive decision-making process. They use several lists and checkboxes along the way to finding the best camp options to suit your kid(s) ideal summer experience. CampChannel helps by asking pertinent questions that should be considered when choosing a camp but may not have already been thought of to ask. It's a little less 21st century in appearance but still gets the job done.

Select everything you are seeking in a summer camp, up to 60 areas of interest as well as location and length of stay. They even offer circus as a choice. You don't often see that as an option! They will provide a list of camps meeting your criteria. This site also includes links to camps that offer exclusive experiences: AIDS, Asthma, Behavioral Disorders, Cancer, Cystic Fibrosis, Diabetes, Learning Disabled, MS, and Physically Disabled. Their philosophy is camp is for everyone! And I couldn't agree more!

Best part of their site…

CampChannel offers the ability to play videos, view a map of the area, add camps to the favorites list, and even email them directly with specific questions you have but may not be answered on their website's camp listing summary. How awesome and convenient are those features? With just the click of a button and boom, you're taken to where you want to be to find the answers you desire. It's like a camp research teleportal to a camp finder genie. Ask, and you shall find!

What they could do better…

All the extra bells and whistles one could ever desire in a camp search come at a price, though. Therefore, the site's organization could use a slight simplification regarding descriptors being trimmed down.

 

CampPage

CampPage.com

CampPage offers three categories to base your selection right from the start. Those three categories are Program Type, Activity, and State/Province. Yes, Province means outside the US and extending into Canada, our friendly neighbors to the north. CampPage states they serve as a guide for "Children's Summer Camps and Wilderness Programs" since 1995. Those two categories encompass a wide range of camp experiences.

The advance search function lets you choose day camps, gender restricted camps, or coed residential camps. CampPage has a well-organized blog containing a series of articles aimed at various interests and concerns parents have sending their child off to camp. Their blog has one section that touches on how to deal with homesickness.

Best part of their site…

Due to the new concern and signs of the times with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, CampPage includes a list of online camps front and center. This list is an excellent resource for kids being encouraged to stay home instead of their usual summer activities.

What they could do better… 

Finding my way back "to home" was slightly confusing on a few pages. The CampPage logo is big and bold on their home page and throughout most pages on their site. But once I was on the site and wanted to return home, I couldn't find the link.

 

Remember, like anything else, there's no such thing as a perfect match, but being aware of all the opportunities may provide an ideal summer camp experience for your child. It's totally within reach! Don't wait, though. Camp registration dates open early, and open slots get booked fast. Get searching! I wish you luck in your quest.

 

UP NEXT:

Top Ten Items you should have on this year’s children’s Summer Camp Checklist

Sources:

acacamps.org

summercamps.com

campchannel.com

camppage.com

 

Related Blog Posts:

How to Lock in Savings for Summer Camp

 

 

 



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