How To Choose A Summer Camp

How to decide what camp is the right fit for your family!

By Debby Perry- Macaroni Kid of Pittsburgh LLC March 21, 2021

With so many options for Summer Camps and Family Fun in the South Hills of Pittsburgh and surrounding areas, there are so many things to consider when choosing where you'd like to send your child this summer. Here are some questions to help you narrow things down to find the best summer camp options in Pittsburgh for you and your family. 

What are your child's interests and needs?

Make sure you children are involved in the selection process. It will make then entire process more meaningful and in general probably a better experience all around! Specialty camps are often the PERFECT fit for your budding artist, musician, theater kid or engineer. A religious camp or a specific family camp might also be options!

What kind of personality does your kid have?

Are they a homebody? Then perhaps a sleep away camp isn't for them. Check into day camps. Is your 7-year-old is as independent as they come? Perhaps they ARE ready for a sleep away camp!

Does your child do better with a friend or family member? Maybe neighbor Ned happens to ALSO be going to the same camp! This might help tremendously, and it's something to consider.

Taking a look at your kid first and considering options that best fit with their needs will be a great start to guiding you towards what type of camp; now it's time to narrow them down. 

How far are you willing to drive each day for a day camp?

Many camps are in various areas of the city, some sleep away camps even on the other side of PA, but this doesn't mean you can't utilize them. Enlist the help of friends, neighbors, and carpools to take advantage of offerings outside your local area that are worth the extra mile. There are definitely some amazing opportunities you won't want to miss. "Will travel for a great camp," might be a great motto to adopt this summer! Scope out local parks and museums nearby that perhaps you and the rest of the family can check out while your camper enjoys their day!  

How much do you have budgeted for camp?

Let's face it. Times are tough, but there are camps out there that are affordable!  Some camps do not even require a full summer commitment and offer camps on a session or week-to-week basis. You can pick and choose what works for your family. Many offer discounts as well for families or sibling enrollment, some have even offered discounts to you via this publication just for mentioning Macaroni Kid and others have local deals listed on our parent site, CertifiKid! Perhaps there's even a referral credit just for getting your neighbor interested! There are also scholarships and tuition assistance available for some camps as well. Do your research and don't be afraid to ask for assistance! Budgets don't have to mean BUST! 

What safety measures does the camp take? 

Safety should be your number one concern as always. Don't be afraid to ask the questions of the camps seeking your business. What COVID-19 measures have them implemented? Do they have clearances to work with children? What is the staff to child ratio and current capacity limit? Is the staff CPR / First Aid trained? In the event of an emergency, what is the camp plan in place?

While you're asking THOSE questions talk to the director about these things as well:

What type of supervision is provided? How is discipline handled? Is the camp accredited? It's your duty to find these things out and any facility that doesn't offer this information forthrightly or without confidence, isn't one you should rush into.  

Does your child have special needs that need to be considered?  

Just as you should choose a camp that enhances or intrigues your child's spirit you should also choose a camp that meets your child's basic needs.  All children have some sort of varying need and as a parent you want to be assured that anyone working with your child is aware and able to provide as you see necessary.  Whether it's an allergy, an adaptive need, or simply the fact that Jessie HATES BALLOONS and literally freaks out at the sight of them.  You need to convey this information so that a plan is in place. 

What will your child need during the camp session?

Don't wait for the  pre-camp letter to come home that says campers need a full dance outfit, pom poms or a canoe!  I'm just being facetious here but ASK prior to committing if there are additional costs or needs that you should be made aware. Will your child need a snack or lunch? Is it provided? Is a show uniform extra?  

What has been the experience of other campers?

Use social media to research old posts and ask about the camp and general experiences with it. Your neighbors, their family members, or a friend might have the info you need, and you will never know unless you ask!

No matter which type of summer camp you choose in Pittsburgh, take the time to research, ask questions and get to know those running it. Browse featured camps on Macaroni Kid South Hills and Macaroni Kid Canonsburg-Washington-McMurray and do some research on ones that Macaroni Kid readers have attended in the past. Don't rush into anything unit you are 100% completely satisfied! This will help you to easily confirm that your camp choice for this summer-- is an awesome one!

Happy camping! 

***CertifiKid Affiliate link- this article contains affiliate links to CertifiKid Deals which means I may earn a small commission on purchases made through our links that does not affect your cost or savings in any way.***

This article was originally published in March 2017 by Debby Perry- Macaroni Kid of Pittsburgh LLC and has been updated by Emily Papa in March 2021.