DEAR ABBY: For years my husband and I worked at various private summer camps across the Southeast. It always amazed us that parents would send their children to camps without thoroughly checking the conditions of these places. What are these parents thinking? The camp sales videos show only what the owners want the parents to see.
A few pointers when selecting a camp:
(1) Make sure the camp is safe. Don't take anyone's word for it.
(2) If your children went last year, quiz them about the activities in order to find out if they really DO get to participate in everything the video claims. Question them about the plumbing, lighting and water. Children are not dumb. If they observed a problem last year, chances are they'll remember it.
(3) Ask if you can drop in on your kids during camp session. If you do and are asked to wait in the office while they're brought to you, ask why you can't meet them wherever they happen to be at that time.
(4) If you take your kids to camp, walk around and take a good look. Don't just check out the bunks. Walk through the kitchen, the infirmary, and examine the play equipment they will be using.
(5) Ask if your children's possessions will be stored in a secure location.
(6) Find out how your kids' money is taken care of. Where can it be kept safe, and what is the procedure if their money is taken?
(7) Last, if your child constantly complains about camp -- LISTEN. You may be getting a dose of the truth.
Hope this helps, Abby. Thanks for letting us vent. -- FRUSTRATED IN GEORGIA
DEAR GEORGIA: Thank you for sharing your voices of experience. I would like to add three more tips:
(8) Are the lifeguards certified and trained to perform CPR and first aid?
(9) Ask if all the counselors and staff have been screened for criminal records or sex offenses.
(10) When you check out the kitchen, ask the cooks what meals are planned and if there are healthy snacks.