Many people think that a camp licensed by the state is an independent entity with no ties to the camp. This is not the case. All states require camps to be licensed by the state and provide insurance coverage for their campers, staff, and instructors.

If the state licenses a camp, you can be sure that the camp follows state policies and procedures regarding education, insurance, crime, public safety, fire, and more. The state issued a license to the Camp that is legally binding. It’s also free to attend and learn from, and there’s usually no age limit on enrolling. You’ll need to provide proof of your state license (you must have a driver’s license or ID card), though most states allow you to show up and participate as a guest.

Once you’ve established that you are, indeed, licensed by the state to teach and lead a camp, you can book your campground vacation. Your state’s campground website can give you details on where to find and book the right campground. You may also want to contact the campground directly.

Before you go on a vacation at a campground, ask if they offer tour classes. You may want to take one of these workshops to learn a new skill or gain more information on the state or country you are visiting. A professional instructor can help you decide what you really want to do in your free time while you’re on vacation. These workshops are offered all year, so if your chosen camp offers one, you won’t have to wait to reserve it.

Another way to determine if the state has licensed a campground is to call the camp office. Call and talk to someone in the state or country about the camp, especially if you’re scheduling a camp trip and would like to know the state requirements for teaching or training. Most likely, the state will have a checklist of approved camps. If your camp is not on the list, let them know what you’re planning on doing and tell them whether or not your camp meets the standards set forth by the state.

If you’re looking at a particular camp but can’t find out whether or not the state licenses it, call the camp directly. Many of these camps offer on-site tours, and you can get an idea before you arrive at camp about what you can expect. Also, if your state doesn’t require licensing, make sure that it is. You never know how your kids may learn to write with a pencil and a pad or how they might learn a second language. It’s always best to be safe, even when it comes to your kids’ summer vacation plans.

After you’ve determined which camp is right for your kids and their needs, you’ll need to get the paperwork together. This paperwork will vary by state but will generally include a release form, which allows the camp to enter your child’s eyes. Another form will be needed to state what type of instructional materials are acceptable and a contract that details how much money the camp will charge for the summer’s activities. And then, campers will need to purchase a camp insurance policy, covering any medical expenses, loss of supplies, or other liabilities. Check to be sure that your state has all of the forms needed; some states don’t require anything beyond the aforementioned documents.

Once you’re all signed up and prepared, you’re ready to rock and roll. But not just yet. Check in with your camp counselor and find out what the next steps are for your child. You may want to start with something simple like taking a field trip to a local park or zoo. That way, your child gets exposure to the natural environment that they’re used to while at the same time getting a valuable education.