Summer camp time is soon upon us. Your son or daughter is excited to be finished with school for the year and ready for freedom and good weather. Many kids are signed up for or planning to attend a summer camp and are excited to return to a place they’ve been before.
For kids who have never been to summer (or day) camp, the excitement is there like it is for other kids, but so is anxiety and fear. Some children are a bit shy, and a few weeks away from home with a group of strangers can be a bit overwhelming. New campers must learn how to interact with lots of strangers, all at once, and step out of their comfort zone.
Preparing your son or daughter for camp can make a huge difference. Giving them an idea of what camp will be like, what experiences you have had with summer camps, and your confidence in them doing well, will all help. Here are some specific ways in which you can prepare your child to have a positive experience at summer camp.
Be positive and encouraging
First things first, make sure that your words, actions and attitude are positive! You want your child to not only hear from you that camp will be fun, but also get that energy from you. Your body language is just as important as your words, so make sure you are in sync, and tell and show your children what a wonderful experience they will have. Tell them camp is an adventure, a place to meet new friends and try new things. And most importantly, make sure you mean it.
Research the camp
Of course you as a parent will do research and find the best camp for your child. But what about including your child in that research? A great way to help your child feel more excited about camp is to research and decide on a camp together. Let your kid take part in their own lives, and know that they had a say in where they spend their two or three most fun weeks of the summer.
Ask your child questions
Make sure to field some open ended questions from your son or daughter about summer camp. What they think it will be like, what they are excited about, what they are nervous about. You might find that what they are nervous about is something you hadn’t even considered. They also might be excited about things that surprise you. Just make sure you let them do the talking, and reinforce the idea that camp is an adventure, and will be a great time!
Remind yourself why you want your child to go to camp
It’s not only kids who get nervous about going to summer camp, parents do too. Having your son or daughter away for days, never mind weeks, can be worrisome. Most parents worry about how their kids will feel at camp; will they be scared, shy, sad, or lonely? As a parent, when you are feeling this way, take a deep breath and remember all the positive aspects of camp. Tell these things not only to your kids, but also to yourself. Camp is a great place to let your kids learn who they are, and interact in a new way that happens in few places other than here.
Decide how and when your child can reach you
Make sure to look at the camp’s policy on calling home. Some camps allow cell phones and calling home at any time, some have specific calling hours, and some do not allow cell phones at all. Make sure that you look this up ahead of time, and talk with your son or daughter about when they can call you. This often helps your child feel at ease, and gives them some comfort that even though they are away from home, they can still talk to you at scheduled times.
Learn about the camp’s schedule together
Besides a calling schedule, try to delve into the activities, meal times, and free times of the camp your child is attending. For many children having an idea of when things will happen can be comforting. Of course, there will be surprises, and not everything will be planned. These unplanned times can help your child to learn that not everything in life goes to plan, and that is often ok!
There are many blogs out there that also talk about what to pack for camp, how to make new friends, and which camp to choose. These are important aspects of preparing for camp, but we wanted to talk about some other ways to prepare your child, and we hope this was helpful and productive for both you and your son or daughter.