How to choose the right summer camp for your kids

School will soon be out for the summer, and if you're thinking about sending your kids to camp for the first time, there are a few things you should find out before choosing one.

As RTV6 sister station WXYZ reports, Sharon Deighton, the Director of Detroit Country Day School summer camps, has a few tips for parents.

She recommends researching summer camps the same way you would a babysitter or day care.

Don't be afraid to ask a lot of questions.

Deighton says the most common questions are about safety.

"Is it fenced in? What happens to the building during the day when my child's there? What time do doors lock?" Deighton said.

She also says it's important to find out what to do when there's an emergency and a parent needs to contact the camp or their child.

The camper to counselor ratio is also key.

Many states' guidelines suggest one counselor for every ten children between three and four years old and one counselor for every 12 children who are five years old. For kids older than six, the state recommends one counselor for every 18 children.

Deighton says, you'll probably want to look for a camp that exceeds those standards.

"Are there 30 kids running around with two teenagers watching all 30 kids? They've met the ratio, but is two teachers enough to keep the kids safe?" Deighton said.

You may also want to ask about the counselor return rate. Deighton says if it's below 40 percent, that could signal an issue with the staff or the camp.

Getting to know the camp's theme or philosophy can tell you a lot about the organization. Deighton says camps should have a specific focus and incorporate educational activities. Good camps know how to place kids together in a creative way so that no one feels left out, Deighton said.

When it comes to price, Deighton says to keep in mind, you get what you pay for.

"You'll probably find most camps average about the same amount," said Deighton. "If you do find one that isn't, ask a lot of questions about why it isn't."

Finally, be sure to ask about transportation. Many camps will charge extra to pick kids up and take them home afterward.

The American Camp Association also has a list of helpful tips.

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