How to Choose a Summer Camp


Wow, what an impact CAMP makes on the entire family. That’s right—the entire family. You know up close and personal that home schooling is a total family commitment. So, too, is choosing a summer camp. It is so important that I would like to share some helpful points for choosing the right camp for you and your family. To keep it simple, remember C-A-M-P when making the decision on which summer camp to choose.

“C” represents Camper-to-Counselor ratio. Every child must be a priority and be involved by not being left out. Notice it is not the camper-to-the-entire-staff ratio. Instead, it is number of campers to each camp counselor—the actual camp “hero” who will be lovingly leading your children and will impact their lives for good. A typical camp ratio is one counselor to six campers. Make sure you inquire about the hiring standards, training, and experience required of camp counselors. Are they passionate about kids?

“A” represents Atmosphere and Activities. Do the camp activities build up and build into your child’s character and esteem? Will the atmosphere of the camp stimulate and be sensitive to your precious treasure? Is the camp safe yet challenging? Do not forget that camp is to be fun, engaging, enhancing, and should encourage each camper to be his or her best! It is important for the staff to create a safe haven so that your child may relax, settle in, and breathe deeply the love of God. Activities should be memory-makers that provide meaningful life changes achieved through teachable moments celebrating life and learning through adventures and discoveries.

“M” represents Mission and Methods. You are not looking for childcare, entertainment, or just a “filler of time.” What is the camp’s stated purpose and passion? Does its mission match its reputation? Will you be pleased that your child embraces such a mission? “Methods” refers to the way the camp executes its mission and its mechanisms of feedback. You and your child are the recipients of the camp’s mission. Perhaps you are looking for a camp whose mission is to present Jesus Christ, teach His ways, and represent Him in an exciting, enthusiastic, and encouraging camp experience, one that envisions every camper and his or her family leaving the camp’s gates knowing that he or she is His beloved, then walking as salt and light as they “love God and others.”

“P” represents People and Programs. You already should have a good feel for the people and programs of a particular camp from investigating letters “C” and “A,” but dig a little deeper. Keep asking questions: Do both the people and the programs feel open, inviting, genuine, equipped, sensible, flexible, clear, consistent, and fun? Do you see them as a blessing and a contributor to educating your child? Are they believably . . . believable? Is the staff open to working through any of your family’s needs or concerns? Do they personally care, and do they have ways for you to stay in touch such as nightly web postings of daily pictures, directors’ comments (written and audio), daily tweets, or blogs? Are they intentional about listening and serving you and your family?

Most camps have scholarship opportunities, so at least ask about them; be creative if you need financial assistance. Home schooling is a daily investment of time, talents, treasures, and huge sacrifices by all. Stretching your dollar on things that matter is imperative—will your child’s camp experience be an eternal investment with eternal returns as together the staff assists your family in “building champions and warriors for Christ”?

Camp is all about relationships: relationships that encourage and equip your family to love each other. Camp is experiential learning. Camp is about discovery and adventure. Camp is about being a kid. Camp is living out the exchanged life of a believer in Jesus Christ. Camp is about new beginnings and new commitments. Camp is about validating life. Camp is good!

Every kid, from age four to ninety-four, needs a camp experience. Why? Because camp impacts lives in the midst of today’s fast-paced, way-too-busy world!

Johnny Polk – has written 1 posts on this site.
He's the biggest kid at camp who, if you meet him, introduces himself with JAW (points to jaw) KNEE (points to knee), and then gives you a big poke! Johnny's college days were spent on the TCU track, where he ran the anchor leg of the 400 relay. Maybe that's why the rest of us feel like we are running just to keep up with him as he has led Christ-Centered Adventure since 1987. During Johnny's first summer at T Bar M, he led a staff of 30 loving on 1400 campers. Today he's directing four camps and year-long programs serving more than 10,000 people a year and he hasn't slowed down a bit. His heart is big on sharing Christ's love, pointing kids to Jesus, and his ability to fire-up a crowd is unparalleled.

Johnny is married to wife-for-life Cheri. They have two sons. Daniel is a graduate of Pepperdine and works with Teach Across America in downtown Dallas, and Kyle is a junior at Texas A&M (whoop! . . . or as Johnny says whoops!). His sons have both been campers and served at camp and they each have big hearts to serve the Lord . . . amen to that!

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