Choosing a camp: where to start?

Turnbull Summer Camp. File photo.

By Kitchissippi Times staff

Selecting a camp can be a tough task. There’s a lot of options out there—camps can be varying lengths of time, offer different activities and services, or be designed for different age groups or needs—and it’s important to find the best fit for both the camper and their family. 

So where do you begin the process? Luckily, organizations like the Canadian Camping Association (CCA), the Ontario Camps Association (OCA) and others have resources available to help guide the process. 

If you are starting out, here are some suggested steps:

Talk about it: As a family, figure out what programs your camper is interested in, where they might like to go, how long they would like to go for, if they are willing to go alone or if they would like to go with a friend instead, the CCA website suggests.

As part of the process, talk to experienced family and friends. Ask around—people in your circle might have experienced camp and will be able to share their knowledge 

Researching camp types: On its website, the OCA suggests looking at the type of camp families are interested in as one of the first research steps, for example day camps, overnight camps or intergenerational camps, to name a few.  

Day Camp: This option might work best if families want to maintain a schedule similar to a school schedule; if campers aren’t ready to be away from home during the night; or if families are looking for a “childcare alternative,” according to the OCA website. 

Overnight Camp: The OCA suggests that this could be the right choice if families want campers to gain independence and learn life skills away from home or if campers want to participate in activities that aren’t available at day camps. 

Intergenerational Camp: This option is available for families that want to enjoy camp together. It can also be a choice for those who want to connect with other parents or caregivers to “exchange ideas and share experiences,” according to the OCA website.

Researching programs: After picking the type of camp, one of the next steps is to look at the programs the camps offer—and there are so many options! A family might be interested in a “traditional varied camp program” or a specific focus for the camp, like “horseback riding, robotics, tennis, art, and more,” the OCA website states. There are camps available for those with religious affiliations or cultural beliefs. 

The OCA also has resources available to learn more if a camper has special needs or if a family might need access to financial subsidies to attend camp.

Connect with the camps: Once the decision is narrowed down to a handful of camps, the next step is to connect with camp staff directly to learn more. Gather your research, create a list of questions for the camp director, and, if possible, ask to take a tour of the camp facility before deciding, the CCA suggests. 

For more information, visit (“Choosing a Camp” page) and (“How to Choose a Camp” page). 

To learn more about the latest COVID-19 guidelines for camps, visit, and

Best of luck picking a camp!

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