As a parent who has spent many years choosing camps for my two kids (both day and sleepover), I know all about those nagging concerns many of us have. Will my child be safe? Are the counsellors properly trained? Will the program provide a stimulating experience for my child?
While talking to staff is one way to alleviate these concerns, it also can help to ask if the camp is accredited, which means an independent organization has evaluated the camp’s programs, facilities and staff ratios to see if they meet widely-accepted standards. In this province, it is the Association des camps du Québec (ACQ) that handles this task.
In addition to accrediting day and residential camps, the association has a website www.camps.qc.ca, which has information on choosing camps (the majority of which are in French) and an interactive guide to the camps, articles and tips on how to have an enriching camp experience. With camp registration well underway, parents will find the online guide especially useful as it allows you to search for camps based on several different criteria: location, language spoken, activities offered, etc.
And for those who want to know more about the accreditation standards, they can find a document (in PDF format) that lists all the criteria as well as a description of how the camps are evaluated.
The “Resource” section on the website offers a quiz to help you find the right camp for your child as well as links to several interesting articles (some in French, others in English) about choosing a camp, preparing your child for overnight camp and the long-term benefits of attending a summer camp. The ACQ also publishes a camp guide available at local CLSCs.
Sending your child to camp doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. Thanks to the association’s standards and its informative website, parents will find it easier to choose camps that will provide a safe and enriching experience for their children.