Going to sleep-away camp is one of my favorite childhood memories. It was so amazing to undertake such an adventure ... alone. It was frightening and exhilarating all at the time same, and while I didn't know it then, my parents likely faced the same mixed emotions.
As summer begins, thousands of children and parents are embarking on similar adventures -- some for the first time, others have been countless times -- but regardless, it makes it easier on everyone if you're all prepared before camp begins.
Here are some important ways to prepare your camper for summer camp:
Start by selecting the right camp. There are camps to meet every interest and personality. The America Camp Association has many great resources to help you find one that suits your child.
Review the rules. Once you select a camp, discuss all the camp's rules with your child. If they prohibit candy and electronics, it's better they have time to adjust to that notion before arriving at camp.
Send something from home. Whether it's a photograph or special blanket, let them take something personal with them, so they can be comforted when they miss home. Make sure you know the rules too about how often you can call, what care packages can contain, etc.
Pack the right gear. From footwear to headgear (hats, bandannas, and sunglasses), you'll want to make sure your camper has safe and comfortable equipment to fully enjoy his camp experience.
Label everything. You want them to come home with everything they took, so make it easy for them to keep track of their things. You can go old school and use a permanent marker on tags and such, or you can order cute and easy labels like these to do the job.
Prepare for homesickness. Most campers will experience at least a little homesickness, so it's a good to be prepared. Some dos and dont's include the following:
- DO send a note or care package ahead of time to arrive the first day of camp. Acknowledge, in a positive way, that you will miss your child. For example, you can say, "I am going to miss you, but I know that you will have a good time at camp."
- DON'T bribe. Linking a successful stay at camp to a material object sends the wrong message. The reward should be your child's newfound confidence and independence.
Don't spend all your time missing them. When the kids are away, adults can play ... or at least catch up on some things you're not able to do when they're around. See an adult movie, go on a date with your husband without having to round up a babysitter, go camping yourself.
Are your children going to camp this summer? How will you prepare them?
Image via The Refinery Junior High Ministry/Flickr