Attending summer camp for the first time, especially if it’s far from home, can be a big adjustment for your child. But there are several things you can do as a parent to help prepare your child for summer camp.
Talk about summer camp
As the summer months approach, take the time to talk to your child about summer camp. Make sure he or she knows what to expect: talk about activities, living and sleeping arrangements, how long the camp is, what you’re going to pack, and when it’s over. Familiarize them with schedules, and even go over maps of camp grounds if you have them.
Plan for camp together
Involve your child in the planning of what you need to bring to camp, including what new things you’ll need to get. Take them along on shopping trips and even let them pick out something new for the camp, like new sneakers or a new backpack. Let your child make decisions as you shop and plan, which will help them feel more invested in the summer camp experience, and may even get them looking forward to it more. Also talk to your child about what he or she can’t have at camp, especially if the camp doesn’t allow technology like cell phones. All of this planning helps them get an idea of what life may be like, and eliminates any surprises.
Get to know the facility
Look at pictures online of the facility, and if there are some, watch videos about the camp, campgrounds, or activities. If your camp doesn’t have videos, look for online campground maps or photos of the space. Spend time going through the website with your child. The more familiar the space seems, the easier it will be for them to adjust being there. If the camp is local, see if you can drive by and check it out in person.
Practice being away from home
Before you even get to the summer months, you can help your child adjust by making sure he or she has gone on sleepovers at friends’ houses for a night or two. You might even consider having your child spend a week at a family member’s house during a school break. Spending time away from parents and their own bedroom can help kids adjust to what life will be like at summer camp, and helps them prepare for the experience of being away from home for an extended period of time.
These tips can be helpful as you prepare your child for summer camp!