“They all look the same” is a phrase I hear a lot as a summer program advisor from families who are looking at camp websites. Once you have narrowed your camp search to those that have the basic characteristics you are looking for: size, location, facility, activities, etc, how then do you begin to differentiate them?
Besides speaking with a knowledgeable camp consultant from Tips on Trips and Camps, here are a few tips:
- Click deep into the website. Most programs have web pages describing their philosophy and values. These don’t pop out at you like activities and videos, but they are there if you keep clicking.
- Call the director to chat. It is astonishing how many of my parents choose a program without calling to speak with a director about the nuances and details you simply cannot get from websites and video.
- Call reference families. A call with at least one but preferably more families whose children have attended recently, who live in your town or nearby and who are close to your child’s age is essential to get another point of view about the camp. Ask questions like: What do you like most? and Where, if at all did the camp fall short of your expectations?
- Trust your gut. If a program seems too good to be true it probably should be eliminated. Websites are wonderful and contain lots of valuable information, but in the end remember they are a marketing tool. No camp is perfect. You are looking for the best fit which in most cases means you will have to prioritize. Put your non negotiable needs at the top of the list. Chances are that in order to get those for sure you will probably have to give on some of the less important “wants.”
I always say finding a camp should be fun, not stressful. Enjoy the process, but please look beyond the website!