Attending camp for the very first time is a rite of passage. For a lot of kids it’s their first time away from the comforts of Mom and Dad, whether they’re just going for a full-day experience or even a week away. It’s a milestone that can stir up a mix of emotions — from excitement and worry to everything in between.
If your child is venturing to camp for the very first time, we have some valuable tips sure to prepare them for the time of their lives.
Talk about it. Sign-ups for camp happen way before camp starts — sometimes as much as six months beforehand. This gives you plenty of opportunity to discuss the fun they’ll be having and what they will be doing. It also gives your child plenty of chances to ask any questions they may have about camp. Take this time to visit the camp’s website and look at photos from past summers. Sometimes you can even go visit the camp beforehand! The more information you can give your child about the camp, the better they will feel come drop-off day.
Foster independence. Camp is a great place to nurture your child’s independence and resilience. There will be nobody to organize your child’s belongings at camp or make their bed. Get them started on daily chores at home that they will be responsible for while away so it won’t be a surprise to your child come camp time.
Go shopping together. The camp will most likely have a list of must-haves your child will need to take with them to camp. Instead of checking off the list yourself, make a day of it and bring your child along for the trip. This way, they can pick up items they want and/or like the best, which will only get them more excited for camp.
Label everything together. When you get home from shopping, pick up a labeller and stamp your child’s name on all their belongings so they come home with exactly what they brought. You can make it a fun activity by using cool labels like these from Mabel’s Labels.
Keep goodbyes short and sweet. Come drop-off day, don’t linger. If you have any last-minute concerns, pass them to a camp counselor via note along with any required paperwork. It’s going to be a hectic day. Don’t expect to have any lengthy discussions with the camp counselors. Your child will be fine. He or she will be able to find a seat on the bus, will find their cabin, will set up their belongings efficiently and, most importantly, will have the best time. Trust it will all be okay.
Rachel is the publisher of inBetween magazine geared towards parents of teens and young adults. Mom to her 12-year-old son, her more than 20 years of experience in journalism have been spent researching and writing about issues closest to families. Rachel, a native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, she now lives with her husband and their son in Toronto.