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Choosing A Camp

Step 1

Before agreeing to send your child to summer camp, answer these questions:

  • What do we expect our child to accomplish/experience at camp?
  • Would a day camp, resident camp, or a travel camp be best?
  • What length of time do we want for this camping experience?
  • How much money do we want to spend?

Step 2

Choosing an appropriate summer camp is seldom as easy as picking the nearest one - so a little advance research is in order.

1. Camp Types and Duration 

Day Camps ... are operated on a campsite for any part of the day, but less than 24 hours a day, usually for children from four to 12 years of age. Camp sessions usually operate 4 to 8 hours per day and from 4 to 10 days per session. They may be best for the young camper just beginning the camping experience.


Residential Camps ... operate at a permanent campsite for five or more days and nights and usually serve children from eight to 17 years old. Campers remain overnight. Camp sessions run from one week up to 8 week all summer experiences. They may be best for a camper who has had a previous away-from-home experience.


Travel Camps ... move from one site to another, visiting various attractions along the way. Campers, usually adolescents, generally travel by canoe, horse, bicycle, boat or on foot. Previous camp experience is usually beneficial. Sessions may last from 5 days up to 3 weeks.


2. Camp Sponsorship 

Knowing the camp sponsorship will help you determine the camp's philosophy and its population focus. Camps are privately sponsored, operated by youth serving agencies such as the Boy or Girl Scouts, and by religiously oriented organizations. Some camps serve special populations such as children with learning disabilities or physical handicaps. Public and private schools, as well as governmental units, operate camping programs.


3. Camp Activities 
Match the camp's activities to the child's needs and desires. A wide variety of activities make up the various camping programs. Campcraft, such as outdoor cooking, toolcraft and ropecraft are common. High adventure activities, including canoeing, sailing, waterskiing, archery, horseback riding, team sports, ropes courses and swimming are out there to be enjoyed.

Step 3

Identify several camps that seem to fit with your identified desires.

Not all camps need to be licensed. A program may call itself a camp and not be required to have a license because it does not fall under the definition of a camp as contained in the licensing law. A camp that is not licensed should not necessarily be disqualified. Before you choose to send your child to a nonlicensed camp, you should ask the director about the quality of the program, safety, staffing and health.

Step 4

Talk to the camp director.

Camp staff are willing to answer questions and discuss the purpose and objectives of their program.

  • Ask for references from previous campers.
  • Ask about the camp's behavior management plan and visitation policy.
  • Ask your neighbor, school counselor and church leader for their opinions.
  • Visit the camps.
  • Check the safety record of the camps under consideration.

Step 5

Finally, campers and parents also share in Michigan's efforts to maintain quality camping.

After choosing & attending a Michigan Children's Camp, if you or your child have a concern about something that happened at camp or how something was handled by the camp, contact the Adult Foster Care and Camp Licensing Division's Complaint Intake Unit.