I can’t say enough good things about sending kids to camp. Truly life changing for our children. If you are sending your child to camp this summer, here are some of my best tips:
Research and pick camps together
If you want your child to feel excited about camp, involve them in the process right from the beginning. Attend camp expos, visit camp open houses to tour the grounds, or watch embedded videos on the camp’s website to get a feel for the camp. Ask for a daily schedule of activities so your child can walk through a day at camp in their mind.
Practice Being Away From Home
If your child has never slept away from home, have them go to slumber parties or spend the weekend away at a friend’s or relative’s house so they learn they can manage on their own in a new environment with a different routine. Perhaps start with a day camp, then a short overnight camp, and work up to the big month away program when they are older.
Address Fears Head On
Many children say they don’t want to go to camp, but they really mean “I am afraid I might wet the bed”. If you can discover their specific worries, help them solve the problem. It may be as simple as showing them how to sneak a pair of overnight pull ups into their sleeping bag.
All kids get homesick. Its part of the camp experience. Its best to tell your children they will feel it, that when it comes, they should write a letter home (send pre-stamped and addressed envelopes) and let their counsellor know because they are experts at helping it pass (usually by finding some fun distracting game or task). Best they don’t call – seems that makes the homesick feelings more intense. Also, don’t offer to pick them up if they don’t like it. Let them know that you trust them to manage. That is the vote of confidence they need!
Review all the camp documents and codes of behaviour and adhere to them.
I am appalled at how parents break the camp rules. If they say “don’t send junk food” – don’t! If they say don’t send cell phones – don’t sneak one in. You are teaching your child that rules don’t matter, and that is NOT a good life lesson to model.
Download the camp packing list
Your child should help shop and pack their camp gear too. Make sure they have had a chance to break in new shoes, and wear any new items at least once. Of course label everything!!! I love Mabel’s Labels myself.
Create some organization systems
Your child will probably need some help creating systems:
- Dealing with wet towels (not leaving them to mildew on the floor) is there a hook? Or a line?
- Dealing with dirty clothes: is there a separate bag away from clean clothes?
- Dealing with toiletries: where will they keep their toothbrush, comb etc.. away from others and bathroom germs? Do they have a tote? Or similar bag? Again – label everything.
Send a healthy kid
Do your own due diligence. If your child is sick, needs medicine, has lice, isn’t vaccinated, has known behaviour issues – discuss all of these with the camp. They may refuse your child, but its better than issues that may ensue if you don’t disclose.