You’ve made the decision to send your child away to camp for the first time…now what?
For starters, know that you are giving your child the best gift. Summer camp gives children the opportunity to gain confidence, learn independence, form lifelong friends, take risks and have fun in a safe and nurturing environment. As you and your child prepare for their first summer away, here are some helpful tips for a successful transition.
Try a sleepover!
Start with an overnight at a family member’s house and then try with a friend. Sleepovers can be fun and a great way for children to sleep out of their own bed.
Practice “life skills” before getting to camp
Every morning at camp, we have clean-up, which believe it or not…is a fun part of the camp day (AND does require some practice). Have your child make their bed every morning and keep their clothes/rooms neat like they will have to do at camp. You also want to be sure that your children are showering themselves…yes, campers do shower EVERY day at camp. They will get reminders at camp, but they will need to do these things independently.
Don’t leave home without it
Talk with your child about some of the comforts of home that might be nice to have a camp. Create a photo book that your child can bring to camp to look at and show to their friends. Camp is a great place to bring a stuffed animal or two. Both campers and staff will bring these comforts of home!
Make communication home easy
This is likely the first time that a child is communicating with you mostly through written letters. Send pre-addressed, stamped envelopes and postcards so you can ensure you will receive the letters home. Ask positive questions in your letters/emails to your children and don’t talk about the things they might be missing at home. Remember to send a letter ahead of time. There is nothing quite like arriving at camp and have a letter from home to welcome them!
Call camp with any questions!
If and when your child is nervous about their first summer away (which is very normal, even in years 2 and 3), reach out to the camp. Set up a meeting with the leadership team to get together with your child. Meeting an adult who will be with them in the day to day is a great way to ease concerns. It’s also important to be totally honest with the camp about any concerns you have about your child going away. The relationship that you have with the camp is a partnership, so be honest!
Rachel Lewis is the Assistant Director of Bunk Life at Camp Schodack. She is a long-time camper, staff and head staff member at Camp Schodack, who took some time away to gain experience in leadership positions at a few other sleepaway and day camps. Rachel’s primary role at camp during the summer is to make sure that campers are adjusting to camp. She loves camp and feels it’s the best way to spend a summer, creating friendships, learning new skills and being part of a summer family.