22/07/2014 12:01 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Would You Send Your Child To A Summer Camp?

Summer campsCamp Beaumont

The summer holidays are looming large and if you are at a loss as to how to keep the children entertained then it might be worth considering a US style summer camp. These are becoming much more popular and can offer children a great opportunity to get a taste of living away from home while making new friends and having fun.

To ensure that summer camp is a positive experience it's vital to choose the right one. There are a whole host to choose from offering both a broad range of activities or specialist camps for children who want to focus on a specific hobby or sport. Which is best will depend on your child.

Before you book you should always ensure that a camp is safe and well run, after all you are entrusting it with your child. Richard Bernstein, co-director of XUX camp, offers the following advice to any parent looking to book a summer camp.

• Any camp should be Ofsted registered because that means it has been independently checked. An Outstanding or Good Ofsted rating should ensure that the camp is safe and well run, although it doesn't mean it will be the most fun as Ofsted isn't really interested in that side of things.

• You should ask about what systems are in place in terms of pastoral care for children. Will a member of staff be assigned to care for your child, to ensure he is eating, sleeping, washing, making friends and phoning home? Also ask what measures are there to cope with homesickness as this can be a particular problem for younger children.

• Ensure that there is an onsite nurse available at all times to deal with any medical problems as they arise.

• Make sure that all staff are CRB checked. Also find out if staff are interviewed in person before being employed and if they all fully trained in first aid, pastoral care and safety procedures?

• Check if the camp is safe? For example what are the sleeping arrangements and how close by will staff be at night? What measures are in place to make sure children remain onsite and cannot stray out of the camp?

Summer campsCamp Beaumont

While these questions should help you get a picture of how well run and safe the camp is, it is also worth finding out as much as you can about the ethos and atmosphere of a camp. Even if they cater for all ages some camps may be more suited to younger children, while others specialise in teens, so ask about what age groups are more prevalent.

You can also gauge a lot about a camp from the reception you get when you call to ask questions; if the staff are knowledgeable and friendly at this stage it's a good sign. Finally ask for recommendations from other parents, and their children, as this is the best way to find out if a camp really delivers a good experience or not.

If you think summer camp might be for your child, here is a list of five residential summer camps to choose from:

This camp, based at a private school in Norfolk, is rated outstanding by Ofsted. It's popular with teens and offers lots of optional extras (which you pay for) such as go karting, trips to theme parks and even a day out in London.
Location: East Anglia
Age groups: 6-17
Activities: A wide range from sports to arts and crafts
Dates: 10 July – 20 August
Prices: £399 per week
Contact: 020 8371 9686

The granddaddy of residential kids camps, PGL has been around since 1957, and offers a huge range of activity holidays from a Cook's Academy to Film School. You would be hard pressed to find a child who didn't fancy any of the PGL breaks.
Location: Nationwide and abroad
Age groups: 7-17
Activities: Everything from a video games workshop to street sports.
Dates: All school holiday periods
Prices: From £129 for a two-night mini break
Contact: 0844 371 0101

Camp Beaumont
Catering for over 8,000 campers every summer holiday Camp Beaumont has plenty of experience of keeping children safe and amused. It offers both multi activity and specialist camps so there is something for everyone.
Location: Nationwide and abroad
Age groups: 7-17
Activities: Learn to drive or dive, become a chef or a spy, improve your tennis or get up on a surfboard – you name it, you can do it.
Dates: 2 July – 20 August
Prices: From £220 per week
Contact: 0800 655 6560

JCA Summer Camp
JCA is usually to be found organising trips for school groups but in the summer holidays it switches to offering residential kids camps. It's a value for money camp with an emphasis on outdoorsy activities.
Location: Peak District & Shropshire
Age groups: 8-15
Activities: Archery, fencing, climbing, high ropes course to name just a few.
Dates: 24 July – 27 August
Prices: From £237 per week
Contact: 02392 222870

The Bushcraft Company
The Bushcraft Company is the perfect antidote to an urban childhood. Staying on the beautiful Cornbury Estate children learn learn fire lighting and wilderness cooking skills as well as enjoying freshwater swimming and mountain biking.
Location: Oxfordshire
Age groups: 8-15
Activities: Stalking and tracking, shelter building, wilderness first aid as well as sports and games.
Dates: 18 July – 26 August
Prices: £399 for five days
Contact: 01608 811 380

Have your children been on a summer camp? Any advice or recommendations?