Kids are ready for camp at different ages and stages.
As you consider camp for your child, don’t hesitate to communicate with camp Directors with questions about your child’s readiness. Here are some questions to consider:
- How old is your child?
- Does your child’s interest in camp come from within, or from parents and/or friends?
- Have previous overnight experiences been positive?
- What does your child expect in the way of camp activities?
- How do you feel about sending your child to camp?
Missing home is normal! But it doesn’t need to leave you or your child feeling helpless. To prepare your child, try these tips:
- Foster your child’s independence year-round with practice separations.
- Choose a camp with your child. Feeling invested is important.
- Talk about what camp will be like, including specifics.
- Make a communication plan with your child, honoring the camp’s policies.
- Send a letter to arrive the first day of camp.
- Pack a personal item from home, like a stuffed animal.
- Avoid sending the wrong message by bribing your child into sticking it out.
If your child does experience homesickness, how you respond can make a big difference:
- Stay calm and offer reassurance. Avoid the temptation to bring your child home early.
- Developing independence is important! Don’t feel guilty in encouraging your child to stay.
- Trust your instincts. If you and the camp agree that coming home is best, stay positive about the experience. Encourage your child to try again next year.
Preparation and Packing:
The camp you choose will send specific guidelines, but the American Camp Association (ACA) includes these suggestions.
- Plan ahead. There may be limited storage space.
- Pay attention to camp packing lists – what to bring, and what to leave home.
- Label EVERYTHING and make sure your child can identify the label.
- Break in footwear well ahead of camp.
- Keep your child involved in the preparation process. It will help with the adjustment and transition.