Choosing the Right Summer Camp for Your Child

If you’re considering sending your child to summer camp, your family may be struggling to choose between the many available options. When choosing the right camp for your child, it’s important to involve your child in the decision. First and foremost, you’ll want to understand what your child expects from a camp experience. Additionally, the following questions can help you narrow down the options to the one program that’s right for you:

Camp Photo


1. Overnight camp or day camp?

Before trying to narrow down your summer camp options, you and your child should decide if he or she is ready to attend an overnight camp. Even if your child is ready for an overnight camp experience, that doesn’t necessarily imply that he or she would like to attend one. You’ll also want to consider which type of camp fits best into work and family vacation schedules.

2. What activities and special programs are offered?

Both overnight camps and day camps often offer weekly themes, specialized camp programs, or – for day camps – field trips and local activities. For example, the Dallas YMCA offers specialty day camps for children interested in magic, science, art, dance, and more. Overnight Camps offer a wide variety of outdoor adventures led by trained and experienced leaders who guide children and teens in having an unforgettable experience. Our Camp Grady Spruce, specifically, offers campers the unique opportunity to select their own activity schedule – allowing campers the opportunity to pursue individual interests while still participating in the traditional camp experience.  Overnight camping for boys, girls, and teens are between the ages 6-16 where they can thrive in an environment that encourages Honesty, Caring, Respect, and Responsibility.

3. Can the camp accommodate special needs?

If applicable, you will want to ensure that any camp you’re considering can meet your child’s special needs. This may include:

  • Physical disability
  • Vegetarian diet
  • Food allergy
  • Attention deficit disorder
  • Asthma
  • English as a second language

Your child will be most successful if they function well in a large group setting,  as most camps adhere to a 1:10 or 1:15 counselor to camper ratio. Many camps are flexible enough to meet the needs of you and your child.   However, you’ll want to ensure that you have informed staff and had all of your questions and concerns addressed.

4. What are my financial options?

You should consider the camp experience a long-term investment in your child’s future and development. However, you should still consider which options are reasonably affordable for your family. Keep in mind that the costs of camp replace the costs of childcare, entertainment, and other expenses you’d have if your child stayed home for the duration. In addition, many camps offer scholarships and funding for families who don’t have the financial ability to send their children. If you don’t think camp is something you can afford, contact the Dallas YMCA to discuss financial assistance options. 

5. How do I feel about the staff?

Camp directors and staff understand that you are entrusting them with the safety of your child, and should be happy to answer all of your questions. You’ll want counselors to have undergone training and background checks, and you’ll want there to be a low camper to counselor ratio.  Just because a camp is large doesn’t mean that your child won’t receive specialized attention, as long as there are enough staff members. A camp’s facilities and programs won’t mean much if your child isn’t exposed to friendly, knowledgeable role models.


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Authored by: YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas