Selecting a Summer Camp
How to Select a Summer Camp in or near Singapore: What do you need to check?
Summer camps around Singapore come in two forms, the so-called Day camps (where you typically send your child from 9AM to 3PM and pick them up at the end of the camp) and the Overnight camps (where children will stay overnight, typically for a week).
Day camps: A number of international schools, private arts centres, play groups, commercial academic centres, and sports camps (e.g., Rugby, tennis, soccer) exist. Some Googling for “summer camp Singapore” will give you the leads for a dynamic and varied offering that changes every year. With all these centres coming under Singapore law, there is little reason to worry in terms of safety and you can focus on choosing the camp that fits your child’s needs the best. After googling, a phonecall or personal visit should help you decide.
Overnight camps: Here the list of providers is much shorter, but as these camps take place outside Singapore, there are a number of things to check. An immersive experience such as this one is a profound experience that can provide a significant boost in self-confidence, self-esteem, and social skills, and it can give a child happy memories to last a lifetime, but you need to know that your child can cope being away from home for a week.
Check the educational benefits of a summer camp
Typically, children need to be at least 8 years old to fully enjoy such events. Some children as young as 7 also enjoy such events, but some get homesick at that age. If you are not certain about this, but you would still like to send your child, please check with the provider if there is the possibility to send your child home earlier.
Check group size and structure of a summer camp:
To get the most out of a summer camp, check that the summer campers form a special group, which is separate from the other clients (if there are any) so as to create the necessary intimate atmosphere that allows each individual to bond with their peers and camp leaders.
The children should be part of an intimate group, typically of size between 10 – 25 children per group.
Each such group must have at least two instructors attached to them who will get to know the kids by name and will be able to provide individual care and age-specific support.
Check educational credentials of a summer camp: To ensure your child will get the most out of the profound potential educational benefits, you should check that the provider has significant experience with Outdoor Education and with dealing with young children.
Check safety-related issues of a summer camp
Check adult to child ratio:
Since summer camps often employ challenging activities such as trekking, climbing and kayaking and the like, it is important you check with the provider that the ratio of adults to kids is roughly 1:5 for age groups under 13. Not all of the adults need be instructors, but the technical assistants need to be qualified to technically conduct the activities your child engages in, while the chief instructors need to have educational experience.
Medically speaking, you should realize that although most camps will have a number of first-aiders present, first-aid can only do so much, so it is more important that you check that a medical doctor is always available within half an hour (similar to Singapore). Also note that, just as on school trips, providers (who are not certified doctors) are legally not allowed to dispense medical care, so if children needs special medication, you must ensure that they able to administer those by themselves.
General safety of a summer camp:
Safety, fortunately, is an area you do not have to worry too much about, since the established providers typically have vast experience dealing with school groups. Simply put, they stand to loose so much in case of an accident that safety is naturally their first priority. So, if a camp has been around for a long time, and has a proven track record of dealing with school groups, you can rest easy on the safety front. For newly established camps, however, you may wish to check on safety items such as the following:
Please note: such checks are mandatory for camps that deal with school groups, so for those camps, there is no need for you to check again.
Travel insurance: Does the provider give you a good travel insurance which includes evacuation coverage? Note however! Travel insurances typically only cover $ 5000 medical cost upon return to Singapore, so you should have a good medical insurance at home as well!
Qualified adult supervision: Are the instructors officially qualified for the activities they conduct?
Emergency logistics in place: Does the provider have the logistics in place to deal with medical emergencies (stand-by vehicle, doctors on call, hospital closeby, best within half an hour to an hour)?
Hardware certification: If there are high elements in use, have these been certified by recognized safety auditors?
Risk assessment systems in place: Does the provider have RAMS (Risk Assessment Management Systems) in place, and do they employ SOPs (Standard Operating Protocols) which are continually updated?
In summary, for an established provider your child’s safety is just as important as it is for you, and you can focus on the uplifting side: selecting the camp that fits your child best and will provide him or her with an unforgettable experience!
Happy summer camping!