Why you should consider a local parks and rec summer camp

Research and think local



When it comes to choosing the right summer day camp for your child, the variety of options can be overwhelming.    

From private for-profit camps to nonprofit organizations such as YMCA and Boys & Girls Clubs, there are numerous camps to choose from. But parents should not overlook the benefits of sending their child to a summer camp offered by their town’s parks and recreation department.

The mission of the local parks and recreation department is to focus on providing high-quality and affordable summer camp programs to its residents. It provides a place for a child to experience all of the benefits of camp without having to travel far from home. It is offered in a familiar environment – parks and recreation department summer camps are usually held in one of the town’s recreation facilities or at a local elementary school.

For first-time campers, traditional day camps provide campers the opportunity to try out a variety of activities that they may never have tried before without having to commit to a specialty camp. This gives your child the chance to find out what they truly enjoy before seeking out specialized activities.

One of the secondary benefits of choosing a local parks and recreation summer day camp is that the majority of the campers are from the community. For first-time campers, they can make new, lasting friendships with other children their own age they will be going to school with in the fall.

For returning campers, the camp allows kids to spend the summer with their friends from school. Often parents will call their parks and recreation department asking if their child’s friends have already registered and ask what sessions they have signed up for so that they can be grouped together at camp.

The counselors are generally from the local community and were often once campers themselves at the day camp where they are working as staff members. The camp directors are frequently teachers or sports coaches who are already an integral part of the community. The staff knows the ins and outs of the camp and the community-at-large and can relate their experiences to each of the campers to ensure that camp is a fun and positive experience for all.

Before selecting a day camp, parents should take the time to explore all options to find the best fit for their child. They should research how staff members are trained, what activities are offered, and find out what else makes the camp unique.

Every day camp operates a little differently and not all camps are alike. One camp might cost more, but it might provide hot lunch or swimming lessons, making it a better value when compared to a less expensive camp that either charges an additional fee for those services or doesn’t offer them at all.

Make sure that when you looking at day camps you are comparing apples to apples. Most camps in New Hampshire are required to be licensed to ensure minimum safety standards, but some camps will also go through the additional rigorous process of becoming accredited by the American Camp Association to ensure that they are running the highest quality program possible. 

Matthew Casparius is the parks and recreation director in Merrimack.

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