Parents' Information - Choosing the Right Summer Camp For your Child

The summer camp experience allows children to learn and play in a healthy, secure, and friendly environment. Below find some of the questions a parent or guardian should ask when looking for a camp that has been permitted by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Parents will answer these questions differently according to their situation and the needs of their child.

Getting Started

  • Start early. Many camps begin their registration period as early as January.
  • Consider whether the camp should be close to home or work.
  • Get referrals from other parents, friends or relatives who have had experience with a particular camp.
  • Visit different camp sites and speak with different camp directors to determine which one most closely meets your child’s needs.
  • Choose a program that fosters a healthy and safe environment, while providing a variety of recreational activities.

Questions to Ask

  • Ask the operator of the camp you are interested in if he or she has applied for a permit from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
  • What is the enrollment process and fees?
  • What is the camp’s reimbursement policy?
  • What are the hours of operation? Are before and/ or after care services available?
  • Does the camp provide transportation? If so, what type?
  • Will the camp provide lunch for my child? If not, how will lunch from home be properly stored?
  • Does the camp provide swim instruction or other aquatic activities? If so, how will my child’s safety be ensured?
  • How does the camp screen its employees?
  • How does the camp handle medical or other emergencies?
  • Will the children be supervised at all times, both indoors and outdoors? What are the ratios of counselors to campers?
  • May I have a tour of the camp facilities?
  • What is the camp’s discipline policy?

Before You Decide

  • Tour the camp facilities. (Look for visible safety hazards, such as peeling paint or broken equipment)
  • Compare all the camps you visited. Consider which sites had the qualities most important to you and your child.
  • Make sure that the camp has its permit or is in the process of getting its permit.
  • When possible, visit the camp one more time before making your decision.
  • Ask yourself: Will I be comfortable leaving my child here?
  • Call the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Bureau of Child Care at 311 if you still have questions.

To Make a Complaint or Report Child Abuse

  • Call 311 to make a complaint regarding safety or sanitary issues at a camp.
  • To report an incident of child abuse call the Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-342-3720 (Outside New York State 518-474-8740)

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