Preparing for camp at home will help prevent homesickness and ensure a successful summer camp experience. Here are some tips for preparing your child for camp:
- Involve the child in the process of selecting the camp. This will help them feel like it was their choice to be there.
- Pre-load the camp experience. Tell your camper what they should expect. For information on what a regular day at camp looks like, contact your camp and/or Camp Director.
- Learn about the camp with your child. If it is possible, visit the camp so they know what it looks like. Look at their website with your child, view activities, photos, and facilities.
Arrange for your child to spend a night or two at a friend’s house so they know how it feels to be away from home and having fun. Pretend that they are off to camp. They need to pack their own bags and only call home if there is an emergency. As a “camp” parent, you could tuck a letter into their bag.
- Pretend that they are at camp and need to make their own bed, pick up and put away their own clothes, brush their teeth, wash and comb their hair, etc…
- Talk to you child about homesickness. Do not promise your camper that they can phone to be picked up anytime they want. Instead, encourage your camper to see this week as a challenge, and remind them that you will be very proud of them for making it through the week. Re-assure them that homesickness is normal, but communicate your confidence in them and their ability to be away from home. Encourage them to talk with their cabin leader if they are feeling sad or having a problem, and remind them that staff will contact you if they think it is necessary.
- Do not schedule any special family events while your child is away or they might feel like they’re missing out. Let them know their camp counsellor will make sure they’re safe and cared for. Ask camp staff about the camp schedule and pre-arrange for your camper to call home on certain days (if it is allowed ~ check before you make the promise!)
Encourage your camper to express what it is that makes them nervous about camp. Be open to answering questions they may have.
- Get excited with your camper and help them prepare! Mark the camp dates on your calendar and talk about it often.
Going to summer camp is a big step for kids and parents, but the benefits will last a lifetime. Your child will practice independence, make new friends, learn new things, and experience positive growth.