Camp is just starting, but this time of year is also the traditional kick-off to plan for next summer. Parents only have seven short weeks to preview camps firsthand this season for their kids for next summer. Just as parents would visit colleges, visiting camps is important because camp is a very significant financial, emotional, and life shaping investment. NOW is the time to book visits. Here are top summer camp tour tips from mainecampexperience.com, the comprehensive camp planning resource:

  1. Book and Tour Early: Booking early allows families to choose the tour date and time that works best for them, helps secure a spot in a popular age group or session, leaves them time to see additional camps if needed, and gives families peace of mind they chose the right camp. Some camps offer early enrollment incentives.
  2. Decide Which Camps to Tour (Aim for 2-4): Good initial research makes narrowing down camp tour choices easier. Families should base decisions on criteria such as: session length (1-8 weeks); gender (coed, all boys or all girls, brother/sister); type of programming and activities; location; desired rusticity; and cost.
  3. Maximize The Tour: Parents and kids will see important facilities, where campers live, waterfront, arts, land sports, activities they enjoy, and hear about favorite camp traditions. Kids gain comfort and familiarity for the following summer. Tips to keep in mind:
  • Limit the number of tours per day (1-2 is ideal); include downtime between tours to process each camp visit, regroup and prepare for the next
  • Consider the time of the day and your child’s energy level and attention
  • Dress comfortably and be sure your child (and siblings) are well-fed and hydrated
  • Prepare your questions ahead of time to ask your tour guide; and spend time with the camp director
  • Be sure to see areas of interest to you and your child
  • Observe and talk to campers – your child’s age and older (which is what your child will be in a few years); as well as staff
  • Ideally try to take an individual family tour, which Maine camps provide. This lets you focus on your own thoughts, experiences and questions without being distracted
  • Consider test driving a camp via a rookie day/weekend this summer if the camp provides, after you tour a camp.

4.Consider The Summer Camp’s Location: A camp’s location is more than just its address. Families should ensure they’ll enjoy returning each summer.

Now’s the time to book your child’s summer 2014 tours and soon you, too, will be living #ten4two.