Summer camp is a great experience for kids. The memories they make at camp will be treasured for a lifetime.
One question that we hear from parents often is, “How do I prepare my child for summer camp?”
Day camps, and especially overnight camps, can be a tough transition for some kids.
We’ve put together some helpful tips on preparing kids for summer camp to ensure that they will have an unforgettable experience.
Let them know what to expect
- Review the camp website or brochure with your child, showing them pictures and discussing the activities that they will be doing.
- Let them know what the camp day schedule is like. Many camps have an example of their daily schedule on their websites.
- Discuss what there will be in terms of snacks and meals. Are meals from home or provided at camp?
- Tell them how long will they stay. Will they be picked up after a half-day, even if other campers stay all day, or will they stay until late afternoon? Who will pick them up?
- Especially for younger children, many camp directors encourage visiting the camp before it begins. Some camps have specific orientation days, and most will allow visits. Meeting the camp staff beforehand can be very helpful for both the child and the parents! Try to attend the parent information session if there is one.
Build it up positively
- A child is more likely to have fun if that’s their expectation. Mike Dobson of Urban Adventure Camps describes it like this:
Help kids get excited. Children feed off of what parents tell them. If a parent sends them off in awe about what a great experience they are going to have on that day or that week, the child arrives at camp with a great attitude that is immediately contagious throughout the group. The same goes the opposite way, if a parent is hesitant when they are leaving them or says things like, “I am going to miss you so much” or “I don’t know what I will do without you”, the children take them literally and it can really stress them and put a damper on their entire experience.
- Avoiding a long separation process during drop-off can help with this as well.
Talk to them about their experience
- Each night ask your child what they liked at camp, and what the plans are for the next day.
- If they are not having a good time, let the camp director know. In general, camp directors are some of the most kid-friendly people you can find, and they really want their campers to have fun.
Prepare for homesickness
- Most sleep-away camps are well-prepared to handle homesickness, since it’s not at all unexpected. Read what the camp has to say on their website about how they handle it and how you can help ahead of time. Talk to the camp director if you are particularly concerned.
Summer camp is fantastic experience for the kids. A little communication with both your child and the camp can assure that everyone starts having fun right away.