So you're thinking about sending your kids to summer camp. What questions should you ask camp administrators before sending in your deposit? What should you remember to pack? How do you deal with kids who get cold feet?
In this month's Kids VT Camp Guide, we're publishing more parent responses to our first-ever Camp Experience Survey. We asked our readers to share their knowledge about local summer camps, and they didn't disappoint.
We heard from 129 respondents from all over the state. Nearly 90 percent said they plan to send their kids to at least one camp this summer. About 66 percent plan to enroll in more than one; 11 percent said they'd be signing up for five or more this year.
The experienced parents had lots of tips and suggestions to share. We've excerpted some of them here. Find more of their feedback in last month's Camp Guide, available at kidsvt.com.
Is there anything you wish you'd asked before sending your child to camp?
What are the staff-to-child ratios?
Stacia Judd, Colchester
Are age groups separated, or are kids of all ages mixed together?
Mary Hyde, Rutland
We've had disagreements with discipline at camps; I advise parents to ask a lot of "what if" questions in advance.
Sara Garland, East Montpelier
I always ask friends if they know anything about a program prior to enrolling my child. And I check the Bright Futures website to see if the camp has had any state violations.
Tina Carroll, Colchester
How old are the lead camp counselors? What type of experience do they have managing large groups of multi-age children? What is the protocol for bullying behavior?
Kids VT contributor Becky Tharp, Williston
How often do you apply — or ask campers to apply — sunscreen?
Melissa Hood, South Hero
Sometimes I have found out after the fact that my children were taken off-site in a bus. When you sign a permission slip, camps don't always give the details about what activity is happening when.
Kids VT contributor Helen Rock, Burlington
What's the plan if it never stops raining?
Charlotte Blend, Winooski
How did you respond when your kid got cold feet before going to camp?
We just told him that every kid feels this way.
Brian Pine, Burlington
We talked on a regular basis, asking, "What do you think it will be like?" And we would talk about all the options, always in a good, positive way. I would make sure that I sounded excited, happy and waiting to hear all their stories when they got back.
Reina Dean, Barre
A promised trip to the snack bar afterward did the trick to get him there. After the first day, he made friends and wanted to go, but didn't want to give up the snack bar incentive, so it remained.
Joanna May, Richmond
My daughter always has anxiety, but then loves it. I just listen to her concerns and then concentrate on all the possibilities. I don't give her a chance to back out, or she will.
Erinn Roland, Waterbury
Told her we had already paid a massive amount and there was no backing out now (and that she would have a great time).
Kids VT Contributor Cindy Morgan, Shelburne
I would just say, "All I am asking is that you try it, and if you need me, I am only a phone call away."
Allison Lafferty, Colchester
Was there something you wish you had packed for sleepaway camp but didn't?
Postcards, plain paper and stamps
Sylvie Vidrine, Hinesburg
Scott Reynolds, Waterbury Center
Laundry detergent and quarters
Donald Van Nostrand, Concord, New Hampshire
Melissa Hellyer, Burlington
Crazy Creek camp chair
Jessica Oski, Burlington
A pack of cards
Brenda Gaulin, Vergennes
Seems like every year was something different: Mosquito netting, personal fan. Extra blanket. Last year, she brought a full-length mirror. And, no, it wasn't fashion camp.
Kids VT contributor Thea Lewis, Burlington
What do you get to do while your child is away at camp?
Charlotte Blend, Winooski
Spend quality time with my other child.
Jen Nicholson, Williston
Some days I'm working; other days I can get all my errands done or just spend some time on me.
Sharon Laub, South Burlington
The normal stuff, but it's a good time for me to go through their clothes and toys. It's easier to get rid of that toy that has been broken or the clothes that are too small.
Reina Dean, Barre
Go out for dinner. Go see a movie that doesn't involve animation or vampires!
Lynn Bruce, Stowe
Cook spicy and other foods that our daughter does not enjoy; quiet time — almost too quiet!
Sue Wear, Colchester
I work and ride my mountain bike while my kids are at camp. This year, I'm planning to go to a mountain bike camp just for adults!
Kids VT contributor Becky Tharp
Miss them! And go away with my husband for a few days.
Laura Standard, Burlington
Jessica Breault, Lincoln