With summer quickly approaching, now is a great time to start thinking about summer camps. Determining whether your child will attend camp during the day or will attend sleepaway camp for his or her first time is a big decision! Going to camp is a wonderful experience for children to make new friends, build self-confidence, and break out of their shell by trying new experiences. That being said, it’s important to make sure that your child is ready for camp before sending him or her off to sleep away from home for the first time!
Check-in with your child’s self-sufficiency
It’s recommended that your child be able to bathe himself/herself and should know how to read the camp schedule. While this does vary on a case-by-case basis, assessing if your child is comfortable with basic independent day-to-day tasks can be a good determining factor before sending him or her to camp. Does he know to pick out his own clothes? Does she know how to read a book during quiet time before bed? Is he wetting the bed on a regular basis? If so, just make sure to check-in with a camp director or counselor before the camp starts. These are all factors to take into consideration.
Prepare your child
Be honest with your child about what this camp experience will be like. Tell him or her about what kinds of activities he or she will get to participate in, always keeping things in a positive perspective. For instance, you might say, “You get to play soccer, take dance class, and ride horses!” as oppose to, “You might have to do sports and take dance class.” See how your child reacts. If he or she seems very frightened by the idea of trying new things and/or you anticipate a tremendous amount of homesickness, consider these reactions before making the decision to send your child to camp.
Do your research
The best way to ensure a healthy and enriching camp experience for your child would be to make sure he or she ends up at the camp that is the right fit for them! If your son is obsessed with surfing, make sure your camp offers surfing. It might sound silly or obvious, but I truly can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen parents send their kid to a camp just because it was close by. Try talking to other parents who have sent their children to this camp before and see what their honest opinions are. Nowadays camps offer hundreds of specialized programs, and enrolling your child in a camp with an activity they love or have always wanted to try could be the perfect way for your kid to not just like…but LOVE his or her overnight camp experience!
Sending your child to camp is a trial-and-error process. If you don’t find the perfect camp right away, try not to get discouraged. Doing your best to check-in with your child’s feelings about camp, having open and honest discussions about what kinds of activities might be available at camp, and researching the most ideal camp options for your child in advance are ways to assess whether or not your son or daughter is ready for an overnight camp experience. Camp is fun, so don’t let the research seem daunting. This should be a fun process for you and your family!
We want to know! When doing your camp research, let us know what you come up with! What kind of feedback have you received from your child about his or her summer camp experience? What is your child’s favorite part about summer camp? Post your thoughts in the comments section below or on our Facebook and Twitter pages: @TheNannyDoctor – we’ll be sure to respond to all of your camp questions!