Countdown to camp: Vetting summer camps before signing up

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COLUMBUS, OH-- Snow on the ground has not stopped many parents all around Central Ohio who said they have been busy contemplating and researching the camp where they will send their children. Spring and summer camps for sports, academics and hobbies have begun opening registration.

Prior to signing up an adult or child, experts recommend some research. The Better Business Bureau of Central Ohio said that people can begin with conversations with friends or neighbors who have attended a camp but should extend beyond that.

The BBB of Central Ohio suggests:

-Visit the camp before submitting your deposit. Check its location and view the living, eating and recreational facilities. Ask about safety procedures (particularly for water activities, archery and out-of-camp trips) and assess the quality and commitment of the staff.

-Ask about fees and payment deadlines. Is your deposit refundable? Are there extra charges for any activities? Are meals and transportation offered?

-What is the camper return rate? The counselor return rate?

-What is the camp director’s background? How is the staff trained? Are criminal checks made for employees and volunteers? What is the ratio of campers to staff members?

-Are medical facilities adequate? Is a nurse or doctor on site? What are the procedures for transporting injured or sick children to medical facilities? Are those facilities nearby?

-What are the safety rules and how are they enforced? Does the camp have appropriate insurance coverage?

-Are family visits or other communications with campers allowed? How is homesickness handled?

-Are references from parents of repeat campers available? Ask the parents about their child’s experience and why they recommend the camp.

Attorney General Mike DeWine's Office recommends these tips:

-Check with the Ohio State Board of Career Colleges and Schools for complaints or consumer information about career colleges and schools.

-Research programs before enrolling or making payments.

-Ask for references/talk to past students to learn about their experiences.

-Independently verify claims made in advertisements or by recruiters.

-Make sure any verbal promises are put in writing.

-Talk to people in the field you’re interested in, and find out whether the program is accepted.

-Read contracts carefully. Make sure you understand your financial obligations and the terms of any cancellation or refund policies.

Experts often direct consumers to ensure camps are certified by the American Camp Association. ACA-accredited camps have met up to 300 nationally recognized standards. You can check the ACA here.

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