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Choosing a Summer Camp for the Kids you Love
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By Tyler Shaule - Executive Director of Forest Cliff Camps

Choosing a summer camp experience for the kids you love, whether it's your own kids, grand-kids or kids you want to invest in is an incredibly important process because summer camps are not all created equal. Camps differ in leadership and camping philosophy, in their staffing policies, camp operations, and in level of transparency and outside accountability they have. These are the four critical areas you want to understand when evaluating a summer camp for the child you love.

A great first place to start is the camp's website or a call to their office. All the information you need to evaluate a camp should be readily available in clear and understandable language in the camp's brochures, websites or through a phone conversation with a knowledgeable staff member. If you cannot get answers to these next questions, you don't want to send the kids you love to that camp.

Who is the Director and what kind of experience do they have?

You want to find a seasoned camp professional with many years of experience managing a staff team and caring for children. Formal training in a related field like education is a definite asset in creating the right environment for your child to flourish.

What is the camp's mission and what makes their program unique?

It's important to understand the camp's promised impact on your kids to see if it matches your expectations and desires for the camp experience. If the camp cannot clearly explain what makes its program unique and important for your child to be a part of then you should keep looking.

How does the camp select staff and what training do they complete?

The camp should readily provide information on how they hire and the level of background screening each staff member must pass through. Hiring right is only have the equation, make sure the staff receives training in the camp's own camper care policies and abuse prevention policies as well as job specific training such as CPR First Aid, activity instruction specialization and leadership training for every team leader or manager.

Is the camp a fully accredited member of the Ontario Camps Association?

Accreditation by the Ontario Camps Association (OCA) is a rigorous process that ensures that the camp achieves the highest standards in facility safety, food service, legislative and regulatory compliance, camper care, staff selection and camp leadership. Check out the OCA website ( for more details on the 178 standards that must be met for certification.

These four questions are a great start to finding the perfect camp experience for the child you love this summer! Look for Part 2 in the June edition to conclude Choosing a Summer Camp for the Child You Love.

Tyler Shaule is the Executive Director at Forest Cliff Camp, a child and youth summer camp that has been creating unforgettable life changing camp experiences since 1939 near Forest Ontario, on the sandy shores of Lake Huron. For more information visit