How to Pick a Summer Camp for Your Child

Last updated: March 22, 2023, at 4:57 a.m. PT

Originally published: January 4, 2018, at 12:25 p.m. PT

Summer. Outdoors. Memories to Last a Lifetime.

Over the past century, summer has become synonymous with camping and the outdoors. If you’re lucky, you might have also gotten the chance to experience summer camp. Sing-a-longs, s’mores, obstacle courses and so much more have become a part of a child’s summer memories. As a parent, it might be challenging to know where to start when it comes to choosing a summer camp for your own kid. Especially when an organization like the Y has so many to choose from.

1. Decide on Your Must-Haves

Come prepared to your search by having an idea of what you’re willing to spend and the duration or number of camp days you’ll need for your family’s schedule. According to the American Camp Association, the average cost of day camp can range from $199 to over $800 a week, while resident camps can average up to $2000. Having an idea of these logistics will support you as you research options and look into financial aid or scholarships if needed.

2. What Are You Hoping to Gain

Everybody’s looking for something. Some parents need a fun experience that will provide child care while they’re at work all summer. Others are hoping to grow a specific skill set in their child such as soccer, art, or even STEM. Narrow your search down by thinking about what your main goals are for the summer experience.

3. Engage Your Child’s Interests

Trying something new and different can be intimidating for anyone. Make the process more comfortable by finding a camp that has at least one element that would interest your child. Whether it’s as simple as a day camp with a fun theme or field trip, or a specialty camp that completely focuses on something your family is passionate about, this will make it easier than ever to drop your child off at summer camp.

4. Be Honest About Your Comfort Levels

No two people are exactly the same, and that includes children. The Y offers an assortment of different camp experiences ranging from day camp and overnight trips all the way up to week-long resident camps and even wilderness expeditions. It’s important to be realistic about what both you and your child are ready and willing to experience this summer.

5. Don’t Wait Until Summer to Check Things Out

If you’re curious about a particular organization, go say hi! Chances are they have similar programming throughout the year that could be useful to try and see if your family enjoys it. There’s no better way to test out the waters than by diving in.

Ready to book your summer camp with the Y?

Day camp registration opens March 20, 2021. 
Resident camp and expedition experiences are currently available for registration.

Category: Camp