Start Your Summer Camp Search Now

December may be too early to register your child for day camp —most day camp programs haven’t finalized their summer schedules at this point — but it’s not too early to start researching your options. And it’s definitely time to begin your search if you’re looking into overnight camps, many of which have been booking reservations for weeks already.

Determine your basic needs for a summer camp experience: Are you looking for a program during a specific time of the summer? What is your budget? Do you want to find a combination of day and overnight programming? Do you need coverage for the entire summer? How long would you like each program to last? How far away can the camp be? What camp activities or themes are most interesting to your child?

With your answers in mind, begin searching for specific programs. Many parents are most comfortable with camps that can be vouched for by someone they know. If you’re one of them, ask friends, coworkers and family members where they send their kids to camp and what they liked and didn’t like about the programs.

If you’re comfortable expanding your search to include unfamiliar programs, the following books and Web sites will introduce you to hundreds of opportunities, many of which may match your needs.

* Peterson’s Summer Opportunities for Kids and Teenagers 2005

Peterson’s Guides, $29.95; available in bookstores or call (800) 338-3282.

* Kaplan Yale Daily News Guide to Summer Programs, Third Edition