Here in Ireland we are blessed with a multitude of camps for our children. Camps take place during the summer, mid-term, Halloween, Easter and Christmas breaks. Some camps even take place over various weekends! With so many options to choose from, the question arises: How Do I Choose The Appropriate Camp For My Child?
Recent CSO statistics have shown that 65% of the male and 55% of the female population are currently in employment. With over 1.1 million children (<18) in Ireland, it is reasonable to suggest that families with two working parents are finding it increasingly difficult to juggle full time jobs and also accommodate their children during the 10-12 weeks of school holidays (give or take).
We all want to provide our children with the best possible opportunities to succeed in life, to enjoy life to the maximum and to become the best person they can be. A good camp experience can offer your child the opportunity to obtain new skills, engage in new activities, to make lasting friendships, learn new skills, grow in confidence and to gain a sense of independence.
I’m sure at this stage you might be thinking, right where do I start?? Firstly it is important to find a camp that is suitable for your child’s age-group, interests and needs. The below questions may assist in locating the appropriate camp:
- Does your child have a specific interest/hobby? i.e. are they interested in sport, technology, education etc.?
- Is your child happy to attend a camp on their own or would they rather be accompanied by a friend?
- Does your child have any specific needs that may need to be highlighted to the camp organisers?
- Has your child expressed an interest in obtaining a particular skill?
- How much are you willing to pay to send your child to a camp?
- Location is important. Can you drop-off/pick-up your child when the camp starts/finishes?
- Would your child be more comfortable in a day camp near home or is he/she ready for a sleep-away experience?
Secondly, and after your child and you have selected the appropriate camp based on your child’s needs/interests/age, it is time to determine the credentials of the chosen camp. A professionally run camp that provides a fun, yet safe environment for your child is of the highest importance. The following questions may be useful in establishing whether you’re happy that the camp you have chosen provides the environment you’re looking for.
- What is the adult (staff/supervisors) ratio to children? The minimum adult/young person ratio in any group should ideally be one adult per group of eight plus one other adult, and allowing an additional adult for each group of eight thereafter. Local circumstances, the ages of the children, the experience of the volunteers and the staff should be taken into consideration. Safety, ability/disability of young people and the nature of the activities being undertaken may require that these ratios be considerably lower.
- Are the children supervised at all times?
- What qualifications do the supervisors/instructors possess?
- Are the supervisors/instructors Garda vetted?
- Are any of the supervisors/instructors first aid trained?
- Is a copy of the camp schedule provided? Particularly beneficial for Multi-Activity camps.
- How are different age groups catered for?
- Who is the Camp Director/Organiser? What is their background/experience?
- For any outdoor camps, what happens when the weather is bad?
- Is there insurance cover?
- If I am late to collect my child, will they still be supervised?
- Will I be provided with contact details of the camp if I need to reach my child during camp hours?
Choosing the right camp for your child involves considering your child’s needs and interests and also involves consideration of the chosen camp environment. Here at Scamps we have included a significant amount of detail for each camp we have listed. If you require further information for a specific camp, we have also included the camp’s website link and where possible a contact number/e-mail.
Happy camp hunting!
The Scamps Team