Once school is out, many parents elect to send their children to summer camp. My kids aren’t huge on the idea of sleeping away from home, so they’ll be having fun at a day camp. They’ll have field trips, practice their favorite sports, and then I get to hug them and enjoy the evening with them without stressing about homework. I’m not in a rush to send them off for the whole summer … I figure they’ll be leaving for college soon enough!
Most of my friends, though, are preparing to send their kids off to sleep-away camp. They’re excited, yet anxious at the same time, plus dealing with a never-ending to-do list that needs to be crossed off before the camp’s deadline.
Regardless of whether your child will be spending a few weeks away from home or will simply attend a summer day-camp, there are many things you should do. Here are a few suggestions to keep you on track:
1. Label everything.
Yes, I mean EVERYTHING. From sneakers to socks, water bottles to T-shirts, towels to underwear. Things have a way of getting lost when your child is busy having fun. You can use labels or fabric markers. In a pinch, just use a Sharpie.
2. Talk to your child about camp and what it will be like.
According to Victoria Kress, Ph.D. and licensed counselor and member of the American Counseling Association, “parents can prepare their child for summer camp by setting some goals and expectations. Also, help your child get familiar with all the necessities and area of the campsite.”
3. Keep your anxiety under control.
“As a parent, you will likely feel anxious, so be sure that your own anxiety isn’t communicated to your child,” says Kress.
4. Reassure your child that the adults there will take care of them.
Kress also recommends explaining to your child how they will be able to communicate with you and how frequently, so you can manage expectations.
5. Don’t send your child to camp with fancy clothes.
Summer camp usually involves outdoor activities and you can expect more wear and tear. Some sleep-away camps do require fancier attire for special nights, so make sure to ask the counselors or coordinators beforehand.
6. If your child is going away, send a letter before he or she leaves.
That way, they’ll feel extra special and loved during the first days at camp, when they usually will feel more homesick.
7. Explain what not to share.
Yes, we tend to say that “sharing is caring,” but that doesn’t apply to personal hygiene. Specifically, teach children not to share brushes or combs. Also, tell them to avoid bumping their head with other kids to prevent catching head lice.
Are you excited for summer camp? I am. As Dr. Kress explains, “camp can serve as a vehicle for important personal growth and the development and leadership skills.” Even if your child is sleeping at home, meeting new friends, trying out different activities and exploring the world outside of school helps kids be more independent. And that’s always a win!More On