From Molly’s adventures at Camp Gowonagin to Z’s story of friendship at STEAM camp, American Girl’s characters’ stories have often celebrated the value of a camp experience for girls. But with so much to learn and so many opportunities available, it can be difficult to choose what camp is right for your girl. To help parents in that process, the American Camp Association (ACA) has put together a helpful online guide, “How to Choose a Camp,” with their recommendations for preparing for camp, coping with homesickness, and choosing a safe camp program for your girl, and they have generously agreed to let us share some of their best advice. First up: Day camps!

10 Questions to Consider When Selecting a Day Camp

Reprinted by permission of the American Camp Association.

Day camps offer a variety of programs for children as young as four years old, and everyone returns home at the end of the day. Because of this, there are specific points to consider when choosing a day camp:

Kids at camp
  1. What training does the staff receive on safety, supervision, counseling, problem solving, and other issues unique to working with young children?
  2. Is the price all-inclusive or are there extra charges for food service, supplies, transportation (if available), group pictures, field trips, and other special activities?
  3. If transportation is offered, where is the closest pick-up location?
Girl smiling holding flowers
  1. Does the camp have an “express bus” that transports children quickly?
  2. If before- and after-camp extended care is offered, who is with the children and what activities take place?
  3. Is lunch served or do campers bring their own sack lunch? Are snacks and drinks provided?
  4. If the camp offers swimming, are there swimming lessons or is it simply recreational swimming?
Girls talking at camp
  1. Are campers in a group with a counselor all day? Or, are campers free to go from one activity to another with appropriate supervision? In this case, whom would you talk to if you had a question or concern about your child?
  2. Is an open house offered before camp starts where you can meet your child’s counselor and van/bus driver?
  3. Are parents allowed to drop by for visits or is there a special parent visitation day?

Worthy of note: the ACA has specific standards applicable only for day camps, so take some time to verify the accreditation status of any camp you are considering.

Once you have answered these questions, visit ACA’s Camp Database to find a camp just right for your child. Parents may call ACA National Headquarters 800-428-CAMP for further information about specific camps, or for the ACA local office in their region.

Finally, the ACA recommends that any decisions about camp begin with your girl: her interests, personality, and maturity level are all key when you begin to consider her camp options. When you include her in the decision-making process, she will have the opportunity to see for herself what different camps have to offer, and she can become better acquainted with each camp’s activities, schedules, menus, and staff—and that can go a long way in helping her make the most of her camp experience!

Reprinted by permission of the American Camp Association. ©2018, American Camping Association, Inc.
All American Girl marks are trademarks of American Girl. © 2018 American Girl.

About ACA:
The American Camp Association® (ACA) is a national organization with more than 11,000 individual members and 3,000 member camps. ACA is committed to collaborating with those who believe in quality camp and outdoor experiences for children, youth, and adults. ACA provides advocacy and evidence-based education and professional development and is the only national accrediting body for the organized camp experience. ACA accredits approximately 2,400 diverse camps nationally. Accreditation provides public evidence of a camp’s voluntary commitment to the health, safety, and overall well-being of both campers and staff. For more information, visit