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 campsA number of international schools, private arts centres, play groups, commercial academic centres, and sports camps (e.g., Rugby, tennis, soccer) exist. Focus on choosing the camp that fits your child's needs.
Overnight campsThese camps may take place outside Singapore. Hence, there are a number of things to check, such as safety. An immersive experience is a profound experience that can provide a significant boost to your child's self-confidence, self-esteem, and social skills. It can also 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 few days.
Check the educational benefits of a summer campTypically, 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 campTo 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 conducive atmosphere that allows each individual to bond with their peers and camp leaders. The children should be part of a 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 campTo 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.
Medical AspectsMedically 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. Also note that, just as on school trips, providers who are not certified doctors are 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 campSafety is an area that established providers typically placed great emphasis on, given their vast experience dealing with school groups. Since the service providers stand to loose so much in case of an accident, safety is naturally their first priority. So, find out the experience of the organizers of such camps, and whether they have a proven track record of dealing with school groups. For newly established camps, you should check on safety aspects such as the following:
Travel insuranceDoes the provider give you a good travel insurance which includes evacuation coverage? Travel insurances typically only cover basic medical cost for the duration of the travel. You and your family should always have a comprehensive medical insurance that protects you during emergencies
Qualified adult supervisionAre the instructors officially qualified for the activities they conduct?
Emergency logistics in placeDoes 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 certificationIf there are high elements in use, have these been certified by recognized safety auditors?
Risk assessment systems in placeDoes 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!