In the dead of winter, there is something really nice about thinking ahead to the summer months. Montreal Families hosts an annual event in February that will help you do just that, and plan your kids’ summer schedules.
The 18th annual Montreal Families’ Camp Fair brings together staff from various day and sleepover (residential camps). This year it will take place on Feb. 17 from noon to 4 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Pointe Claire.
For many sleepover camps, registration begins in January so it’s never too early to start planning. Registration for day camps may start a bit later but it’s still important to register early to avoid disappointment.
At this free event, representatives of more than 40 camps set up booths and talk to parents about their programs. They often have former campers who can chat about their experiences, video footage, photos, brochures and senior staff who can answer questions and allay any fears or concerns parents might have.
Parents can learn about camps that specialize in a particular sport, such as horseback riding, tennis or soccer, and others that have a multitude of activities throughout each day of the week.
There will also be many sleepover camps, several of which accommodate children with special needs. Some are co-ed while others are boys only or girls only.
The Quebec Camp Association will also be on hand to give out information about hundreds of camps that are certified, meaning they have met a number of safety and health standards set by this provincial organization.
Free parking is available at the back of the hotel. And make sure to bring the kids along to get them pumped about their upcoming summer adventure. There will be clowns making balloon sculptures.
For the full list of camps exhibiting this year click here.
Here are some questions you might consider asking the camping staff:
- What is the camp’s philosophy or mission?
- How long has the camp been in existence?
- Is the camp accredited, meaning it must meet criteria set by a provincial or state (U.S.) camping association. If not, you should find out why the camp hasn’t pursued accreditation.
- What kinds of programs does the camp offer? Do children get to choose activities each day? What will campers do in the event of bad weather (rain or extreme heat)?
- What is the lice policy? How do you ensure kids don't go to camp with lice or come home with the pesky critters?
- What is the screen policy? Are campers allowed to bring cell phones or tablets?
- What are the camp facilities, both for activities (pool, rock climbing wall, etc.) and sleeping (cabins, tents, dorms)?
- What is the ratio of staff to campers? What are the ages of counsellors and what sort of training do they receive?
- What is the process for checking kids in and out of the camp?
- How long has the camp director been with the camp and what is his or her background?
- How many campers return each summer? Can the camp put you in touch with some former campers who can talk about their experience?
- How does the camp handle issues like homesickness, bullying, shy children, disruptive behaviour, etc.?
- What happens in the event of an injury or illness? How close is the camp to a medical facility?
What to consider when choosing a camp
- Ask your child what type of camp he or she would be interested in attending.
- Gather information about camps from Montreal Families' Camp Fair on February 17, Internet searches, the library and from your child's friends. Some churches offer inexpensive day camps.
- Talk to your friends and neighbours about their children's camp experiences.
- Visit the camp; many have information days or nights that are great for guaging your child's interest and meeting some staff.
- Consider if the camp is too far away. Your child may want to go to a camp on the South Shore and you live in the city. Do you want to do that long drive every day?
- See if you have friends or neighbours whose children are attending the same camp, so you could carpool.
See you at the fair!