Child Care vs. Child Development
By: “H” Rothenberg Triple C Camp Co-Owner and Director
When we bought Triple C Camp in 1999, Libby and I realized that a day camp is very different than the overnight camps we used to direct in the midwest.
Day camp has many of the same activities, facilities, philosophies and fun as overnight camp….however we felt this was going to be a bit different. Now, we have owned Triple C for 15 years, and I liken day camp to the wind sprint and overnight camp to the marathon. Both are running, however very different. Training is different, the participants are different, the fees are different staff’s complete focus is different and even the landscape is often very different.
Another major difference is the vision for the parents. We hear from parents on the phone all the time that say, “I need five or six weeks of child care this summer.” This always leaves a distaste in my mouth as we look at our program as child development. However we do understand the perspective of the parent and they are at work. Their children are not at school and need “coverage”. This is another buzz word I dislike. So, we try to educate. We have lengthy phone conversations with camp parents, we give extensive tours of our property to families, we hold open houses and have trained staff present. All this time effort and energy to show people that our focus is to partner with them to help raise and develop their child. We want it to be a partnership. We want to work with them to help them grow grow their child, not just care for them.
In the state of Virginia, child care licensing REQUIRES day camps to become licensed. This is very reasonable for a camp like ours. All the procedures are put into place for child care centers. and we are a child development program personified! So, when the licensing staff from the county come to us, they are so appreciative of how organized and ready we are for them. Truth is the American Camp Associations standards are much higher and more difficult and every camp Libby and I have ever been to that was ACA accredited never received lower than 100%. Making sure the ducks are in a row and procedures are followed are key to a great child development program. This is one of the things American Camp Association specializes in. We have been members of the ACA for over 20 years and believe in it’s core values.
Training staff is a bit different as our staff in day camp recognize that the children go home each day and we train them accordingly. We spend a full week with staff(similar in most overnight camps) talking about the expectations of what campers will be like and the staffs interaction with them. Since the children go home daily, we are unaware of what the children are eating, how much sleep they are getting, what influences they have, etc. We rely on proactive communication from parents to partner with us about their children.
That is really the key! PARTNERING with parents to help raise their children. This is similar in overnight and day camp, however in day camp it is more prominent on a day to day basis. To get maximum growth from the children it is critical that families share information with the camp, and that the camp shares that information with the child’s Counselor. Once we know what is going on with a child we have a much better chance of success regarding their growth and development. Of course, we always learn about the parents and the families when they are sharing, or not sharing info. as well.
Whether you are sending your child to day camp, or overnight camp, please visit the camp, meet the Directors, find out where the staff come from and how they are trained. Find out about health care, age of staff, backgrounds of staff and so many other things that will help you find the best PARTNER for working with you to help grow and develop your child.