It was about this time last year that it suddenly dawned on me that I had no idea who was going to watch my son when school let out for the summer.
The concept of a “summer camp” was foreign to me. Until 2016, both of my kids were pre-schoolers and in year-round daycare.
This spring, I am much wiser.
I now know how critical it is to find just the right camp for kiddo. One that is conveniently located, is a good value, matches his or her interests and provides a safe, nurturing environment.
(I learned this the hard way, too – I had to pull my son out of our first camp last year because of a high student-counselor ratio and lots of drama and tears. We had pre-paid. My husband wasn’t happy.)
Easy way to find summer camps
Anyway, that’s why I view azcentral.com’s newly revamped summer camps database as sort of a labor of love. We’ve long offered such a tool. But this year, we overhauled the entire website and tried to create an interface that gives you, the parent, a much better user experience.
There are more than 1,500 camps entered in our database, so you can hopefully find the one that best fits your needs. Just go to summercamps.azcentral.com to start looking around.
You can search by ZIP code and age of child, set parameters for cost or find camps that allow daily or “drop-in” rate options.
We’ve included a keyword search so you can match your child’s interest to the camp’s focus. For example, there are sports camps, STEM camps, art camps, LEGO camps, dance camps and theater camps. There are camps that offer sibling discounts, camps that provide lunch, camps that go on field trips.
Plus, you can search from your phone, tablet – virtually any device you own.
Tips for searching
Here are a few helpful tips for searching:
- Start with the basic search if you aren’t sure what you’re want or need. It will give you the most options to consider.
- Keep your keywords in both the basic or advance searches simple. If you type entire phrases, you’ll likely eliminate camps unnecessarily. Think descriptive words: “swimming,” “basketball,” “tennis,” for example, if you are looking at sports camps. Try “math” “science” “STEM” “engineering” “writing” or “technology” if you want something with an educational focus. “Drama” “arts” “games” and “crafts” are also good keywords to use.
- If you aren’t getting what you want with an age range search, try repeating the same query with “grade range” or vice versa. Remember, camp operators set their own criteria. If there’s a grade range, it’s usually for a child who will enter that grade during the fall school year.
- Use the “full-day” drop down option if you know you are unable to consider a camp that only offers morning or afternoon programming. It will save you time and frustration. Last year I found the perfect camp for my aspiring Jedi, right near our house. Unfortunately it ended at noon, which does me little good since I work in downtown Phoenix.
- Be mindful of the minimum and maximum cost functions. Some camps have set those fields to show their daily/drop-in rate; others only show the maximum weekly rate. It’s always best to read the camp description and verify with the camp directly.
Have suggestions on how to make our database better? We’d love to hear them! Feel free to reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.