Make sure it's a fit. Is your child passionate about the camp's area of focus? When you're considering a camp, review last year's program to make sure it will sustain your camper's interest. Your aspiring astronaut may benefit more from a few visits to the local planetarium than an entire summer studying the stars.
Start off right. Discuss your child's skill level, interests, and goals with the counselors early on. That way, whenever possible, they can tailor projects to his needs (within reason; don't expect a customized program unless you shell out for a one-on-one tutor).
Let him bring a friend. Stave off loneliness by inviting a pal to sign up for the same camp. Having a friend around will take the edge off if this is your child's first time away from home.
Trust the counselors. It's only natural to worry about your child when she goes away, whether it's for a day, a week, or a month. But being hands-off will help her become more independent — one of the great rewards of summer camp.
Illuminate the possibilities. Help him see that even skills he doesn't enjoy practicing can further his goals. For example, he'll need to learn how to write before he becomes the marine biologist that he wants to be, for example. So if he'll be attending a writing camp, suggest that he draft stories about ocean exploration.
Join in the fun. If your child attends an arts camp, create something together when she's at home. It's a subtle way to reinforce (and observe) what she's learning — and it gives her self-esteem a big boost when she shows her stuff.
Note your child's progress. If you notice that he isn't getting enough out of the experience, talk to his counselor. She may be able to shed some light — and help come up with a plan to turn things around.
Make room for fun! Remember, this is a time for your child to rejuvenate herself. When she comes home after a long week at math camp, ask her what she wants to do over the weekend; allow for plenty of downtime during the course of the summer.