Kids count down to summer, parents prepare for summer camp

Kids are already counting down the days until summer as parents begin the desperate search to find something to keep them busy for 12 weeks. Thousands of families rely on summer camps to fill the void and keep the kids entertained. Consumer expert Amy Davis has found an easy way to find a camp that fits you and your family.

From acting camps to fencing camps to cooking camps, you name it, your kids can dabble in it a week or all summer long. But finding camps that are convenient that interest your child can take time and calling around. Mom Sarah Gish started researching summer camps in 2003. Now she compiles information about more than 200 camps in an easy-to-use searchable database called The Summer Book. You can search camps by age, area of town, price and whether they offer scholarships and interests. 

"Figure out if your kids like art or sports and send them to a camp that they really like," Gish told Davis. "And, you know, have them sit down with you while you're looking through the database... 'what are your interests?' and that kind of thing." 

Once you find a camp, you should think about safety. Much of the information you need you'll have to get from the summer camp itself.

"Make sure that their counselors, you know, what the ratio is?" said Gish. "Are they water safety-certified and Red Cross trained?"

Summer camps differ from day cares in that they are not all regulated. It depends if there is an educational component and how much time the kids spend outside at the camp, among other things. Most programs and centers will be licensed by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services g) or the Department of State Health Services. A DSHS told us that their full website has been down for maintenance. They sent a roster of all licensed youth camps in Texas. If the camp you are looking at isn't in either agency's database, they should have a letter they can show you that states they are exempt from regulation.