What to know about sending your kids off to summer camp

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Kristin Thorne has the details. (WABC)

This is the time of year parents are signing up their children for summer camp.

And we have some information on how to make the most of your kids' experience.

Mindy Finkelstein of Plainview made a big decision for this summer. She's sending her 8-year-old daughter to sleep away camp.

"I feel like she's ready, she feels like she's ready, she's excited," said Mindy.

And what child wouldn't be. Endless hours of running, playing -- all without Mom and Dad. But for parents it can be nerve-wracking.

"You want to make sure they're there to take care of your child in a loving way," said Finkelstein.

So we asked camp expert Karen Alford what parents should look for in a sleep away camp.

Alford works for Camp Specialists - a free camp placement service.

"When parents go to tour the camps they should be looking at the facilities, the grounds, make sure that the camp is reinvesting money into the camp that they're updating their facility. That they're adding new programs," said Alford.

Alford says you should do a tour of the camp with your child the summer before you want to send them, so you and them can see the camp in action.

Talk to your child about what he or she wants in a sleep away experience. And really get to know the camp management.

"You want to feel comfortable with the management," said Alford. "Would you feel comfortable picking up the phone if you had any concerns. You want to make sure the management understands you and that there's a comfort level."

If you're just not sure yet sleep away camps can run for all different lengths. Some are just two weeks long. Some camps have what's called rookie week or rookie days.

"It's an opportunity for them to try out the camp, spend a day at camp, have an overnight at the camp," said Alford.

Alford says there's no magic age when children are emotionally ready to attend sleep away camp because all children are different.

But she says most start at 8-years-old or going into 4th grade.

For more information on Camp Specialists go to http://www.campspecialists.com or email Karen Alford at karen@campspecialists.com

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