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7 questions to ask a summer camp

Not all summer camps are created equal. Here's how to avoid a summer horror story.

By Carol Lloyd

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Summer camp: Counselors

Counselors

1. How are counselors chosen? Especially at sleep-away camps, it’s worth remembering that counselors function as your surrogate 24/7. Inquire about the camp’s screening process: Does it conduct criminal background checks on prospective employees? Does it require that new counselors have experience teaching or working with children? Does it investigate employees' prior work history?

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is the executive editor of GreatSchools and mother to two raucous daughters, ages 9 and 13.

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Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

02/5/2010:
"I worked at a summer camp for several summers during college...during our training we were told good summer camp examples and good summer camp nonexamples. When push comes to shove, I think the biggest factor in a decision should be whether or not the camp has association with a national (or State) organization. I worked at a Girl Scout Camp, therefore we were held to national and state safety, training and employment Girl Scout Standards (which are ridiculously high)...just look for a camp that has accredidation and has association with some sort of known organization."
02/1/2010:
"In reference to #3, a camp cannot discuss the firing of a staff member, even without the mention of names and other specifics. Don't ask that question. Instead, I would ask a question about the standards to which the staff members are held and what happens if they fail to meet those standards. This will let you know if staff members are dismissed for infractions or simply given a slap on the wrist. "
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