Making friends can be a challenge for anyone, child to adult, but when kids head to camp this summer, parents can help. If it’s your child’s first time at camp or if they are a seasoned summer camper, making new friends can be difficult. This is especially true for those kids who are shy. While shyness can affect everyone at one time or another, depending on the situation, there are ways to overcome shyness, timidity, and anxiety when meeting and making new friends. In anticipation of summer camp, here are some tips to help you, as parents, aid your kids in overcoming shyness, anxiousness, or even fear when making new friends.
Observation is the first step. When kids arrive at camp, tell them to use their eyes and take a close (but not creepy) look at those around them. It’s all a matter of observation. Tell kids to see if they can spot any common interests with their fellow campers. It might be a cap from a favorite team or clothing with a treasured logo or a shirt exactly like theirs. The possibilities are endless, and the similarities open the door for an easy introduction and conversation.
Let your kids know that introducing yourself can be hard, even for adults, but once they’ve identified some common ground, the task is easier. Whether the common interest is sports, music, fashion, or even nail polish, the pressure is off, and the introduction will be easy. Remind your children that the other kids are likely just and nervous and will in most cases welcome an introduction from a friendly face. It’s all a matter of mustering up a little bit of courage. Tell your kids to keep it simple and offer up a friendly compliment followed by a short introduction like this, “Cool cap, I’m John. I’m from Richmond” or “Love your flip flops. I’m Lynn. I’m from Tampa.”
Ask Questions to Learn About Your New “Friend”
Remind your kids that introductions are usually short, and they probably don’t want to tell their new “friend” everything about them in the first five minutes. Instead, help them think of some ways to find out about their new “friend” by asking questions. A good place to start is with camp, tell your kids to ask questions about what others are excited about for camp week. They can even begin by saying, “I can’t wait to learn snorkeling. Have you ever done it before?” Because people of all ages love it when someone wants to know them and what they think, a great conversation starter could be, “What are you most excited to do at camp?” It’s a great way to get their fellow campers talking and to find more common ground as they form a fledgling friendship. Remind your children that everyone they meet won’t necessarily become a best friend but learning fellow campers’ names and something about them can help. It’s important your kids know becoming friends takes time, but as they bond over activities and connections, they’ll likely have at least a few good friends when camp is over.
Games Can Help
Camps often use games as ice breakers, and letting your kids take a favorite card game or a deck of cards can help them form friendships in their free time. Tell kids an easy way to meet others can be by simply asking, “Do you wanna play Uno?” or “Anyone know how to play rummy?” Laughing and playing together, learning new games, can help form the early bonds of friendship while at camp.
At Camp Live Oak, the goal is fun and learning, so remind your kids that making friends won’t be hard as they laugh and learn together!