It’s almost summertime and schools are almost out across Southern California. Some parents have big plans and some have none; regardless, all parents have questions about summer camps. So we asked Cassie Young, a local Camp Director, to answer some questions from the dad community about summer camp to help you choose the best place for your kid(s). And if you are still looking for somewhere fun for them to go this summer, Cassie’s Camp Wildfolk in West Hollywood is offering a special discount for City Dads if you register by June 15th (details below). Enjoy!
What kind of things do kids do during the day? What are typical types of camp philosophies?
The activities at a Day Camp differ so greatly from camp to camp. There are specialty camps, which only allow a camper to really focus on one thing, or more “traditional” day camps- where campers get a broader variety of activities.
There has been an increase in hybrid-style camps, where campers get some variety, but also have an opportunity to dig deeper into specialty areas of their interest. This is really beneficial for kids, because it exposes them to new things, helps them get out of their comfort zone, and still gives them an opportunity to have fun and engage in things they love.
Philosophies at day camps are all across the spectrum. This is something Parents should really pay attention to and check for on the website or with the Director directly. Are they intentional about how they work with children? Is it aligned with your philosophy? For a long time camps were viewed as just daycare for working parents. But now, there are camps run by incredibly experienced experts in the field, who know that camp is truly an opportunity to delve deeper into learning in a fun, engaging way.
If it is a specialty camp, does my child need to have prior knowledge?
Most camps aren’t expecting any camper to come in an expert and will work with all levels.
How do you typically train your staff? Who is your staff and where do they come from?
In my experience, strong staff training is the foundation of a great camp. I definitely recommend asking the Camp Director what their Staff Training looks like- how many days, what types of topics they cover, and get more information on their hiring process.
At Camp Wildfolk, we have a 5 Day Training and a 5-Step Hiring Process, but many camps you’ll find only train with their staff for one or two days.
Each camp also differs in who they hire. Some camps hire locally- others internationally. Talk to the Director for more information!
What are best practices for safety/sick protocols? Should a trained nurse be on staff or just trained staff?
It’s a good sign if a Camp has their entire staff First Aid & CPR certified. Prevention and Over-Communication are our motto when it comes to safety. In the event of any injury, best practices are to touch base with parents as soon as possible and keep logs of all incidents.
What is a good camper/counselor ratio? Should a child ever be alone with an adult for any reason?
A sign of a quality camp is a small ratio of campers to staff. They truly range from camp to camp. There are some (super-pricey) camps that have one-to-one ratios and very inexpensive camps where the ratio is 15+ campers for each staff person. Generally, the younger the campers, the smaller the ratio should be. Older campers can usually handle a wider range.
Most camps do not allow staff to be alone with children- for everyone’s safety and protection. The majority of camps go by the “Buddy rule”- with campers taking a buddy on any trips.
In the event of a behavior incident, or a time when a camper & staff need to have a pow-wow, they’ll generally go off to the side of the group- but still within eye sight of other staff and campers.
How do you integrate kids on your first day?
Most camps are very well prepared for first day jitters and teambuilding. This is where camps excel – making kids feel comfy, connected, and a part of the community. Staff will usually spend a good portion of the morning doing icebreakers and helping facilitate relationship building with their campers.
What should be included in the price? Should material fees, travel fees be separate (or what should I look out for in the bill)?
Camp prices vary so widely in Los Angeles. Most camps have a registration fee on top of the base tuition, as well as a late fee, if registering after a certain date. Most camps also will have discounts for early registration- so it helps to figure out your summer at the start of the year! Extended Day programs are usually available for an extra fee, too.
There are the Parks & Recs, YMCA’s, other local offerings- which will often have a low base price, and then charge extra for field trips, or full week attendance.
Then there are mid-range priced camps which will often have the same quality (sometimes better) of the higher-priced camps, but without the luxury conveniences of included meals and transportation. These camps will usually include all material and travel frees (for field trips).
Then there are the pricier camps- which usually include meals and transportation.
Cassie Young is the Owner & Director of Camp Wildfolk, an intentional Day Camp located in West Hollywood, offering a progressive twist on traditional day camp, with a project-based and growth-centered approach. Campers experience choice and freedom within an intentionally balanced, structured program that includes activities such as Cooking, Art, Sports, Tinkering, Science, Dance, Theater, Nature Exploration, & so much more! It’s camper-centered, experiential, and WILDLY fun! Read more at www.campwildfolk.com
Exclusive Deal for City Dads: $100 OFF/Session! Use Discount Code: WeHeartCityDads
Not valid with any other discount code. Must register online by June 15th.