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[IPp] Choosing a Camp....
Here is the article I wrote on choosing a camp....
Choosing A Diabetes Camp
This is the time of year many children go away to camp. Here are some tips to
help you choose the best camp for your child!
For many years I managed a program that helped parents choose child care
options for their children, including camps. Frequently I was asked, "yes,
but what is the "best" center/camp/program?" My answer was, and still is, it
depends on your child, and you are the expert.
That may seem like a cop-out, but here is the rationale - as each child is
different from another, so is each child care program. One child may need an
academic focus; others need work on social skills. Some children thrive on
structure; others need flexibility.
Many parents feel that if the program is expensive and has a good reputation,
it is "the best." Cost is not always an indicator of quality. And, as
discussed above, just because a program has a good reputation, its particular
philosophy may not be the one best suited to the needs of your child as an
Here are some questions, guidelines and resources to help you make the best
choice for your child:
7 What is your child's personality type and learning style? What areas does
your child excel in; and what areas need help? Write down the answers to
these questions and use them as the basis for your search criteria.
7 Is the camp accredited? Camp accreditation is critical. The <A
Camping Association (ACA)</A> website has an extensive list of the rigorous
standards camps must meet in order to be accredited. Not all camps are
automatically accredited! Accreditation is voluntary and has a cost attached
to it, so camps pursuing accreditation show a higher level of commitment to
safety and quality. The ACA website has a search function, so you can search
for an accredited camp. Diabetes is offered as one of the search criterion.
Additionally, accredited camps mandate a physician or nurse be on duty at all
times for resident camps.
7 What is the staff turnover ratio? Do camp staff return year after year?
Happy, satisfied, quality staff are the key to camp success. The quality of
life experienced by the camper is directly linked to the quality of life for
the caregiver. High turnover is an indicator of a problem. Children need
consistency, and frequent turnover is the antithesis of consistency.
Additionally, frequent turnover can create problems with a child's ability to
trust their caregivers (including parents)
7 What are the qualifications of the director and staff? Accredited programs
have guidelines addressing staff qualifications. But if a camp is not
accredited, parents must determine the qualifications of staff. What pre-camp
training is required?
7 Have the staff been cleared to work with children? Do they have the
necessary fingerprint, criminal and child abuse checks required by law for
individuals working with kids?
7 What is the camp philosophy? What is the focus of the camp (academic,
7 How are discipline issues handled?
7 How are medications, blood sugar checks and dosings handled? Who does them?
What is that person's medical background, if any? What happens in the case of
a medical emergency? Again, accredited camps have specific guidelines for
7 Ask for references! Get references from parents, and if you can get them,
from staff. Be sure to check them, and know the source. References can be
faked! If a program seems offended or reluctant to offer them, that should
raise a red flag. Find out why! Some camps try to protect the privacy of
their families and staff. This is a good thing! So offer your name and
contact information, and ask that they contact you. Then verify the
information of the person who contacts you. Once you have spoken to someone,
usually the guard is down as they realize you are on the level.
7 Contact your local Resource and Referral (R&R) organization. Their services
are completely free. Get all the information on the program that you can, and
ask them where you can get complaint information. Then be sure to call and
find out if there have been any complaints! R&R's often have workshops, tip
sheets, and other printed resources to help you make informed child care
7 Ask friends and others in your circle of acquaintances for camp
recommendations. Be sure to ask your child's pediatric endocrine staff. Often
they have excellent information, and can put you into contact with other
parents for references!
7 Go with your gut feeling! Parents have good instincts...go with them!
Mom to Nikkolas (Nikko) 7/98
Pumping MM508 since 7/02
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