Spring is moving toward summer. The branches are budding, tulips are blooming and first time and experienced campers are turning their thoughts to the summer. Excited? Maybe. Nervous? Undoubtably. And the campers are equally excited and nervous! Seriously, campers, counselors, staff and parents all likely to be feeling some measure of excitement mixed with nerves. Consequently your home may have erupted in a tumult of emotions.
Especially for first time campers, the reality of heading away to sleep-away camp looms larger and larger with each passing day. Here are a few suggestions for guiding your child toward a positive first time overnight camp experience.
- Give your child the opportunity to speak up and you to listen
Perhaps he wants to tell you about the dream he had about camp last night. Try to build in a few extra minutes in the morning to let him relate his feelings. Or maybe someone at school told her that going away to summer camp is crazy— “that sounds so scary!” Share an afternoon snack together and hear what she has to say about what she is feeling.
- Look at photos on the camp web site
Nearly every camp has a website with a plethora of photos from summers past. Sit down with your child and go through the photos, taking the time to hear his reactions and questions.
- Select a trunk
Many campers pack there belongings in a trunk for the summer. If you don’t already have one, now is a good time to find one. Here are a few tips on finding a suitable trunk.
- Be honest
Feeling nervous, scared and excited are all emotions that both new and returning campers are feeling right about now. Acknowledge her emotions and let her know that what she is feeling is normal— kids all over are feeling very similar emotions as they too look towards summer camp. If she asks, "What if I want to come home," here are a few responses to have in your pocket.
- Carve out time to prepare for camp
Set aside time when the two of you can prepare for camp together. Maybe you’ll take a trip to buy toiletries, or make a letter writing kit, or fill out his camp forms. Focus on an activity that will both help him prepare for camp mentally as well as give him a chance to talk about what he is thinking. Whatever you choose make it a parent-child event.