Summer camp season is just around the corner! With over 18 years of summer camp experience, I’ve put together a list of five things to do to get your kiddos ready for summer camp.
No. 1 Research and Chose Together
Research and choose a camp together. Is a day camp or an overnight experience the best option? Should the camp be focused around one particular interest (arts, horses, adventure) or a more general experience?
No. 2 Visit During A Camp Open House
Visit the camp during an open house or family event to meet the directors and ask questions. Be sure to visit the website and view the pictures and videos of camp fun. This will give your child a sense of familiarity before the experience.
No. 3 Set Goals
Help your child set goals for the camp experience of meeting new people and trying new things. These can be things such as, “I want to be friendly with everyone in my cabin group”, or “I want to swim in the lake.”
No. 4 Encourage Independence
Encourage your child’s independence throughout the year. Practice separations such as sleepovers at a friend’s house can be very useful.
No. 5 Talk About Homesickness
Talk to your child about homesickness being a normal reaction and then develop strategies to cope, such as writing letters home, sharing their feelings with other people and thinking about the good things that camp is giving them. Do not make a “pick up plan”. This undermines the child’s sense of confidence in their ability to be on their own and sets an expectation that they won’t like the new experience.
If they are heading out for an overnight camp, pack together and make it a party! Be sure your child has a favorite thing from home (stuffed animal, pillow) to help them feel comfortable in their new environment and celebrate their camp experience!
Hope your kiddos have a great summer camp experience!
Lorrie Syverson is Director of Camping, Education and Retreat Services at Sherman Lake YMCA. She is looking forward to a great camping season at the Sherman Lake YMCA this summer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, visit the Sherman Lake YMCA website for more information about the summer camps that they are offering.