How to prepare your child for summer camp for the first time
Summer camp is super fun for most kids. Some kids look forward to summer camp, while others are very worried about going to camp. However, there is no need to worry about your child going to summer camp if you prepare your children for summer camp, which can help reduce their worries. Here are some tips to prepare your child for summer camp.
1. Try a Sleepover
This is important, especially if your kids are going to a summer camp where they are going to be staying overnight. Sleeping away from home can be stressful for most children, so sending your child to a relative’s home for the night is a good start. Many times, staying with a friend overnight can be too much for some kids to start with. There could be calls in the middle of the night, but most kids become adjusted to staying at other places after just a few visits.
2. When Talking about Summer Camp, Follow Your Child’s Lead
It is tempting to tell your child that “Summer camp is going to be SO FUN!” to comfort them about their concerns. However, doing this does not allow your kids to make up their own minds about how they feel about summer camp.
Instead, you should allow them to talk about their worries and what they think that summer camp is going to be like. Some kids are going to be excited, while others are going to be worried. Mixed emotions are perfectly normal for children, especially when it is the first time that they are going to camp.
3. Never too Early to Start Packing
Most summer camps post their supply needed lists months in advance. The earlier that you start packing supplies in a bag or a box for camp, the less stressful last-minute scrambling you and your kids need to do at the last minute.
You should allow your child to place items in the bag or box that they think that they are going to need. Even though not all the items they want to take are going to be able to go, choosing the items to put in their own bag allows them to start taking responsibility for their own packing. This can also get them excited for camp, or a summer camp shopping trip.
4. Go Shopping
Starting to pack early means that you can go to the stores and start picking up necessary items they need for camp. You should also think about getting them items that would comfort them when they are away from home, which could be a stuffed toy, a special blanket, or small snacks.
5. Avoid Sending Items that are Not Allowed
Some summer camps have strict rules about what you are and are not allowed to send with your child. These items may be printed on the packing lists or be listed on the camp’s website. If the summer camp has items listed that are not allowed, do not send them. There is most likely a valid reason why these items are banned or are not recommended being sent to camp with your child.
If you are wondering why an item is banned or your child needs an item, you should contact the summer camp. You need to be respectful of the summer camps rules about what items are allowed and are not allowed.
6. Pack Old Clothing and Gear
Any summer camp is going to be rough on clothing and gear, so it is possible that your kids are going to come home with trashed items. You should pack old clothing and gear that you or your kids are not going to be upset about if the items get damaged. Pack towels, and sheets that you do not mind throwing out. The one exception is a sleeping bag. Fun camp themed shirts are always a must!
7. Label Everything
There are going to be dozens of other kids at summer camp, so there is the chance that items are going to get mixed up. When you are packing, take some time to label everything that your kids are taking with them to camp. There are pre-printed labels that are specially designed to attach to clothing. You can also use Sharpies to write on clothing and other items. Just keep in mind that Sharpie ink can fade over time, so you may need to relabel items after multiple uses.
8. Pack Extra Clothing
Most summer camps have a list of recommended items that you should send to camp with your kids, but you should always send extra clothing. Most times at camp, kids get dirtier than you would expect and you never know what the laundry situation will be. It is easier to send extra clothing with them, than having to drop extra clothing off in the middle of camp.
It is also recommended that you send extra sunglasses and hats, because it is likely that your child will forget them or lose them somewhere during summer camp.
9. Make Sure Your Child Can Handle the Bag
When you are picking a bag for summer camp, your child should be able to carry, roll or move the bag on their own. They may still need help to lift the bag when it is full, but they need to get into the mindset that their stuff is their responsibility. A durable, lightweight duffel bag is a good choice because they have lots of room and can be placed under a bunk bed.
10. If There is a No Cell Phone Policy, Trust It
This is a tough one, especially if you want your kids to be able to reach you. Some kids have issues leaving their cell phone at home, but they should leave it with you. Cell phones can be a huge distraction and usually take away from the camp experience. For many children, a direct line home also makes homesickness last longer. There is also the worry that a cellphone will be lost, damaged, or stolen. So, your best bet is to have your child leave their phone at home.
11. Avoid the Tearful and Long Goodbyes
Most times, drop off day is more difficult on the parents than the children. There are lots of emotions going on and you may feel anxious and sad, which is completely normal, but you should not show your child how you are feeling. A tearful goodbye from a parent can create the feelings of guilt and sadness in the child. So, you should try to be happy and assure them that summer camp is going to be fun, and you are going to be there to pick them after camp is over.
12. Once They are at Camp, Remember that No News is Good News
You did the research and picked the summer camp. All the contact and medical forms have been filled out. Summer camps are run by professionals who know to keep kids safe, so you can be assured that they will call if there is an issue. If you do not hear from the camp or your child, then everything is going okay. You child could be having so much fun and making new friends that they forget to call home.
Summer camp is great for kids and teenagers. It is time to learn new skills and make new friends. There are going to be the occasional struggles and difficult times along the way, but this is also the case with many other life experiences. So, keep in mind that getting your child ready for summer camp early reduces stress on you and your child.