BBB advises to check out summer camps

Published 10:31 am Tuesday, June 30, 2009

BEAUMONT — The day-camp advertisement boasted of a basketball court, spacious playground and computer lab. In reality, the physical premises offered a portable kiddy hoop, a small fenced-in backyard and a couple of outdated computers sitting in the basement.

Better Business Bureau advises parents seeking a summer camp for their kids — whether it is day camp or sleep-away camp — to exercise care and common sense. With application deadlines fast approaching, it can be tempting to panic and choose the first camp that has an opening. That’s a decision you may later regret.

“When looking at different camps, keep in mind your child’s age, personality and interests,” states Michael Clayton, President/CEO of the Better Business Bureau in Southeast Texas.  “Some camps have structured programs run by staff while others allow campers to choose some of their daily activities.”

Find out how long the camp has been in business and check with the Better Business Bureau to determine if the operation is trustworthy through Reliability Reports at

“Always visit the camp before submitting your deposit,” Clayton continues.  “Check out the location, view the living/eating/recreational facilities, ask about safety procedures (particularly for water activities, archery and out-of-camp trips) and assess the quality and commitment of the staff.”

Ask the camp staff about the following:

• What are the total fees and payment deadlines? Is the deposit refundable? Are there extra charges for any activities? Are meals and transportation offered?

• What is the camper return rate? The counselor return rate?

• What is the camp director’s background? How is the staff trained? What is the ratio of campers to staff members?

• Are medical facilities adequate and is a nurse or doctor on site? What are the procedures for transporting injured or sick children to nearby medical facilities?

• What are the safety rules and how are they enforced?

• Are family visits or other communications with campers allowed? How is homesickness handled?

• Are references from parents of repeat campers available? If so, call them and ask about their child’s experience and why they recommend the camp.

For further information, visit or call 409/835-5348 or 800/685-7650.

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