Set Up for Success
Summer can be an exciting time for your child. Attending a camp gives them a chance to make new friends and explore new topics of interest, but it can also be a bit daunting. It’s completely normal for your child to have anxiety about going off to camp, and they will likely experience feelings of being homesick. There are, however, several things you can do before they ever step foot out of the house to make sure they have fun and are making the most of their summer.
By Christina Cannon
In the days, weeks, and months before camp, talk to your child about what to expect. It’s also a good idea to occasionally remind them of things they can do to stay healthy and safe, such as drinking plenty of water or not sharing hairbrushes.
Give an excitement boost.
If your child is already excited about camp, that’s great! If not, help boost their enthusiasm by taking them shopping for some fun camp gear. If there’s anything they’re really looking forward to, practice the skills involved so that they’ll have more confidence when the day comes.
Provide some assurance.
Let your child know how proud you are that they are attending camp. Keep it lighthearted, and highlight all the ways camp can be great by sharing fun stories from when you attended camp. This can go a long way in replacing nervousness with excitement.
Keep things steady at home.
Your child is about to have a lot of new experiences. Now is not the time to change up their routine or redecorate their room. Keep everything as normal as possible before they leave for camp, and allow them to come back to a familiar home by not changing things while they are away.
Participate in sleepovers.
If your child seems anxious about spending time away, consider having them stay with family or friends leading up to camp. Being around people they know while being away from you can help them gain some independence while being surrounded with familiar faces.
Know how your child feels.
Take time to periodically talk to your child about what they are most nervous about. Do what you can to address their apprehensions while focusing on what they are most looking forward to, and let them know it’s perfectly normal to feel homesick.
Pack a reminder of home.
Whether it’s a stuffed animal or a family picture, sending a few items to remind your child of home may give them some peace of mind. Stay connected with your child by writing them letters or sending them tasty treats. You can also send them to camp with pre-addressed and stamped envelopes so they can write to you whenever they want.
Offer up familiarity.
Take your child to visit the camp before starting. If they can see the facilities and meet the counselors before their session begins, there’s a chance that it could remove any apprehension your child feels. Signing them up with a friend is another great way to put your child at ease among what is a very new experience for them.
Let your child have a say in which camp they attend.
The more involved in choosing a camp your child is, the more likely they will be to stick it out. Giving them a little bit of ownership in the process will go a long way in how comfortable they are.
Prepare for drop off.
This can easily be the most difficult time of camp for a ton of children. Express your excitement for your child, and don’t linger too long when dropping your child off at camp. Try to use the time away as an opportunity to rest and recharge! HS