Tips for Consumers: Check Out Summer Camps in Person
Tips for Consumers
Check Out Summer Camps in Person
The day camp advertisement boasted of a basketball court, spacious playground and computer lab. Actually, it only offered a portable kiddy hoop, a small fenced-in backyard and a couple of out-dated computers in the basement.
The Better Business Bureau cautions parents in the Hagerstown area who are seeking a summer camp for their kids - whether day camp or sleep-away - to exercise care and common sense. With application deadlines fast approaching, some parents panic and choose the first camp that has an opening. Instead, here are some tips to help you select a safe and fun camp for your kids:
* Look for a camp program that fits your child's age, personality and interests. Some have structured programs with scheduled campers' activities. Others are more flexible, allowing campers to choose some of their daily activities.
Find out how long the camp has been in business and check them out with the Better Business Bureau. Go to www.bbbmd.org or call us 24 hours a day at (410) 347-3992 to learn their report.
* Always visit the camp before submitting your deposit. Check on its location, view the living/eating/recreational facilities, ask about safety procedures (particularly for water activities, archery and out-of-camp trips) and assess the quality and commitment of the staff. Ask some questions:
* What are the total fees and payment deadlines? Is your deposit refundable?
* Are there extra charges for any activities? Are meals and transportation offered?
* What is the camper return rate? The counselor return rate?
* What is the camp director's background? How is the staff trained? What is the ratio of campers to staff members?
* Are medical facilities adequate and is a nurse or doctor on site? What are the procedures for transporting injured or sick children to nearby medical facilities?
* What are the safety rules and how are they enforced?
* Are family visits allowed? How is homesickness handled?
* Are references from parents of repeat campers available? Ask about their child's experience and why they recommend the camp.
* Finally, look for camps certified by the American Camp Association. ACA-accredited camps have met up to 300 national standards.
To file a complaint visit: www.baltimore.bbb.org or write: BBB, 1414 Key Highway, #100, Baltimore MD 21230. Their office serves Baltimore and all of Greater Maryland.