arents know that finding the best local summer camp experience for their child should be at the top of every parent's to-do list. But how do you find the best local summer camp for your child? It depends on what you are looking for. Are you seeking a small group experience or a huge outdoor camp? Does your child excel in one area that you would like to encourage or are you looking for something new for them to experience?

The first thing you will want to do is to ask your child what they might like to experience this summer. Then the fun starts. Here are some things to find out about the camps you are considering:


What are the hours of the camp? Do they offer half-day camps, full-day camps, or extended care camps? There is a significant difference in activities and the camp experience between a half-day summer camp and an extended child-care day. Our camps are either half-day camps from 9 a.m. -noon/1-4 p.m. or full-day camps from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.


What is the staff-to-child ratio? What are the qualifications and education for staff? Are there enough adults available if a child needs individual attention? Our camps use certified local schoolteachers to lead camps and we have at least two to three staff in each activity for camp. In our camps, you won’t find high school students in charge of your kids.


What is the size of the camp? Are there hundreds of kids running around doing whatever they like or does the camp work with small groups of campers and teachers? Our camp groups usually reach a capacity of 18 campers in a group. What does that mean for your kids? It means that a group of 18 kids will have at least one teacher and multiple adult assistants to work with your kids in a small-group experience and it gives campers enough kids in the group where they can find new friends with similar interests.


What will your kids be doing at camp? Will they be actively participating in group activities and individual projects? Will they be watching videos and playing on iPads all day, or will they be actively taking part in activities with their new friends? Our camps are all hands-on and we don’t use screens, phones, or watch movies. We think that kids spend too much time on screens, and we want them to participate with their peers while they learn, build and play. We provide a way for kids to be creative and grow to their potential.


At the end of the day, there are many great summer camps in the Shreveport/Bossier area that your kids will enjoy. Most people think the best part of my day as a camp director is when I see kids learn something new or experience something for the first time. In actuality, the best part of my day is when a camper jumps back in the car, hugs their parent, and says, “Thank you for sending me to camp.” I look forward to building something new with your kids this summer.

Eric McFarland is the owner and director of Bricks 4 Kidz LEGO Engineering camps (www. bricks4kidz.com/sb) and Challenge Island STEAM camps (www.challenge-island. com/sb) in Shreveport and Bossier City.