Preparing Your Child For Summer Camp
Camp is just around the corner and there’s a lot to prepare. Whether it’s your 5 year old’s first time at day camp or your 14 year old’s 6th summer away, you want your child’s camp experience to be fun and successful. But you’re the parent and you’re not at camp, what can you do? The answer is lots! Here are five ways you can help prepare your child(ren) for summer camp:
Take the time to read and reply to all of the correspondence from the camp. The camp will want to know everything they can about your child to best support him/her. Obviously, the medical info is a priority. Get your form to the Dr early. In MA, an exam within 12 months is required; you do not need a new physical. Be on time with your forms – Late forms make the camp’s job much harder.
Especially if this is your first time with the program, don’t be afraid to call/email and ask lots of questions.
You should label all of your child’s clothing and belongings. It’s time well spent. Clothing is too expensive to see it left in a pile of lost and found. Parents sometimes expect that kids will lose everything at camp. That shouldn’t be the case. Nothing fancy is needed – a permanent marker on the label will do the trick.
Packing for Overnight Camp
If your child is going to an overnight camp, have him/her help you pick out what’s needed and share in the labeling and packing. I’ve found that when parents do the shopping and packing, kids don’t know what belongs to them. Kids are more likely to use and take care of their stuff if they are included in the process. It’s part of building their independence.
Talk with Your Child
Children rely on structure. Find out as much as you can and then go through how the day at camp will work. Re-watch the video and look at the website. Talk about the transportation to day camp, the food, the schedule and, most importantly, who is there for him/her. Children should know who to talk to if there is a problem, big or small. I ask all of my campers, “If something was bothering you, would you tell someone or hold it in?” Many children will hold their feelings in and wait until they can tell you. Teach them that the Camp Director and counselors can help them the way that you do. If they trust the camp staff with their concerns, the camp staff can help them. That will go a long way to your child feel safe at camp and open to having the fun you and he want to happen.
Next month we’ll talk specifically about homesickness (and kid-sickness).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sue is Owner/Director of Camp Emerson a residential camp in Hinsdale, MA for girls and boys age 7-15. Sue happily gave up the corporate HR life over 20 year ago to run her family’s camp where she lovingly empowers children every day. She lives in Ridgefield, CT during the winter with her husband and teen boy/girl twins.