First, think about your kids, and who they are. No matter how old they may be, your kids have personalities, opinions, strengths and needs. Think about who they are today and who they can become with the right encouragement, environment and opportunities to grow. According to the American Camp Association (ACA), “it’s important to know a child’s personality and identify what camp programs will benefit him or her most. With a variety of programs and activities, camp offers fun and meaningful adventures to match a child’s interests and maturity level.”

Some camps are only day camps (meaning your kids will sleep at home) while others are sleep-away experiences (where your kids live at camp for anywhere from a week to 2 months). Some camps specialize in a specific skill such as soccer, tennis, drama, gymnastics, swimming or art, while others offer every activity you can imagine and some you’ve never heard of. Think about what will make your child happy, and then begin your research there.

Next, talk to your child—you know, the person who will actually be attending this camp that you are working so hard to find. Ask what their dream summer would entail, talk about their favorite activities, what they are excited to learn and what they are nervous about. By leaving them out of the decision-making process there’s a chance you might sign them up for an experience they really don’t enjoy. And while most moms might argue that they know their kids best (guilty), we’re willing to bet that your kids are pretty familiar with their own preferences as well.