Overnight camps throughout the country will start over the next few weeks. Both my husband and I went to sleepaway camp and we have successfully passed this tradition on to our own children. The reasons why I love sending my kids to camp is long but allowing a child to develop “broadly as a human being” tops the list.
Getting your kids to go to an overnight camp isn’t always easy. For a child who’s a homebody, the thought of leaving for weeks can be overwhelming and anxiety provoking. Especially when you break the news to them that their 4-8 weeks will be spent without technology. Yes, that means no cell phone for 4 weeks! As a parent, this is truly a highlight.
For some children, this will be their first adventure away from home and for others, this is an annual experience.
Here are a few tips from a seasoned overnight camp family to help prepare your child for their sleepaway adventure.
Visit the camp
Most camps have a visiting day before the official start day. If you can arrange some time to visit the camp your child will have an opportunity to check out the camp before they move in for a few weeks. Seeing the camp will help ease anxiety and remove some of the unknowns.
Our camp sends out a detailed list of what the kids need to bring. We have learned to follow the list but remove items that are never used. For example, the list suggests rain boots. My kids have never worn rain boots and this is a heavy item to include in the duffel bag if they’re not going to wear them.
Involve your children in the packing process. Let them label their clothing and pick out their shirts, shorts, and bedding. Use their age as a guide for how much or how little control you can hand over.
Having your child participate in the packing is crucial. They begin to come to terms with going to camp. It becomes real. They also need to know what they’re bringing with them. My sons were very excited while we were packing together once they saw all of the ‘fun’ equipment being packed into the bag. We packed a fancy flashlight, a fan with a water mister, an organizer to hang on the bunk and other camp necessities.
Talk about homesickness
Before you child heads off to camp take the time to talk about feeling homesick. Almost every child misses home at some point over the summer. It can be devastating to receive a letter from your child letting you know that they are miserable and want to come home now. If you do receive one of those letters don’t hesitate to reach out to the camp to let them know. Generally, those feelings turn around pretty quickly and the next letter will let you know that camp is amazing.
Anxiety about camp can show up at unexpected times and in unexpected ways. If your child is acting out or acting differently it could be a sign that they’re anxious about camp. Take the time to listen to your children and help them find strategies to work through any concerns prior to their departure.
Other articles to help prepare your child for summer camp:
- What to Bring to Summer Camp: Safer Personal Care Choices
- Safer Spray Sunscreens for Kids, Teens, and Adults
- 10 Summer Camp Essentials for Kids of All Ages
- Non-Toxic Summer Camp Supplies
- 5 Non-Toxic Summer Camp Essentials
- How to Make a Summer Camp Survival Kit
How do you prepare your child for overnight camp?