Summer is officially right around the corner, and many parents are beginning to search for a safe, rewarding summer experience. Parents have a wide range of choices when it comes to choosing summer activities. When searching for a summer camp, it’s important for parents to be confident that the organization has a proven track record for ensuring the safety, health and satisfaction of its attendees.

Choosing a summer camp requires parents to perform some fairly heavy research. A great summer camp experience can be a long-term investment, which may positively influence several aspects of your child’s life.

Some camps, such as those organized around a particular sport, are highly structured and stress development of specific skills. Others are more flexible and give campers the opportunity to choose some of their activities. Your child’s interest and personality should be your guide in choosing an appropriate program. If the child is old enough, ask what activities he or she would enjoy at camp.

Ask how long a camp has been in business and check with parents of past and returning students. Go to bbb.org to check on the camp’s track record and consumer experiences.

The Better Business Bureau offers the following tips for parents searching for the right summer camp program:

1. Take time to visit camps to inspect facilities, ask about the staff’s training and experience and find out how the camp handles medical emergencies. If the child is staying overnight, be sure to look at cabins, showers and other facilities that your child will be using.

2. What are the safety rules and how are they enforced? Does the camp have appropriate insurance coverage?

3. Ask about fees. Are there extra charges for any activities? Are meals and transportation included? Is there a cost for uniforms? Will extra spending money be needed? Is financial aid available? Is there a deadline for payment? Is your deposit refundable?

4. What is the camper return rate? The counselor return rate?

5. What is the camp director’s background? How is the staff trained? Are criminal checks performed for camp staff and volunteers? What is the ratio of campers to staff members?

6. Are medical facilities adequate? Is a nurse or doctor on site? What are the procedures for transporting injured or sick children to medical facilities? Are those facilities nearby?

7. Are family visits or other communications with campers allowed? How is homesickness handled?

8. Are references from parents of repeat campers available? Ask the parents about their child’s experience and why they recommend the camp.

9. Review a typical daily schedule, the variety of activities that are planned, age range of campers and the type of food that is served.

Finally, look for camps that are certified by the American Camp Association. ACA-accredited camps have met up to 300 nationally recognized standards.

For more tips on how to be a savvy consumer, go to bbb.org. To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, call the BBB at 903-581-5704 or report it via BBB ScamTracker.

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