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Kids Blowing Bubbles

Pick the Right Day Camp for Your Kid

Sleep-away camps aren't the only option for summer. Learn about local day camps that can keep your child occupied and happy all summer long.​

Amanda Dundas |

When it came time to choose a day camp for my daughter Ella last summer, I was overwhelmed. She was about to enter kindergarten, and had outgrown her preschool camp. There was a seemingly endless array of possibilities -- and like most big decisions, none were completely perfect. Should I send her to town camp, where she'd meet other kids she'd go to school with? Or should I choose a full-day program that would include twice daily swim periods? And would my daughter do better at the art camp that her best friend was going to, or would she be better off at a camp that exposed her to more sports?

Talking to other parents, I learned I wasn't alone in my confusion.  With over 12,000 day and sleep-away camps nationally, ranging from $100 to over $800 a week, there's a lot to choose from.  And the primary reason for picking a camp is as varied at the camps themselves.  When it comes to choosing a day camp, where your children's friends attend is often the key deciding factor, says Laurel Barrie, co-owner of Camp Connection, a consultancy agency that helps parents pick a camp for their child.  (The service is free to parents, with chosen camps paying a set fee to the company.)  "Most people feel that their child will be happy as long as he or she is with school friends," she explains.  "Others prioritize price or hours of operation."

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