I didn’t go to overnight camp until I was in about 4th grade. I remember it well, Kansas Bible Camp. The pool was freezing cold, the beds all in one room, and the crafts were fun. What I remember most was how much fun I had away from home! I have always loved traveling, so it was easier for me. I also remember another girl in our dorm/room who wasn’t so ready. It happens, and the camp staff is trained to handle it. I remember the counselor spending time with her and by the middle of the week she was having a blast with all of us!
So how do you know if your child is ready for Summer camp?
I researched this topic and found quite a few resources to help you. This article from American Camp Association is beyond helpful! Above all, a mother’s intuition is the strongest indicator. If your gut is telling you not yet! Then you better listen. But if you really just don’t know, here are some things you can do to tell :
- Sleepovers – How has your child reacted to slumber parties? If you are thinking about Summer camp and your child has never had a slumber party away from home, now is the perfect time to try! Ask the caregiver of the slumber party how the child reacted, how s/he fell asleep, the level of anxiety, etc. This information can either reassure you or give you insight into areas to talk about with your child.
- Conversation – Talk to your child. After the slumber party, ask about what they think about doing that for an entire week, and with lots of other children. Watch for anxiety and really listen to their worries. It also might surprise you how ready they actually are!
- Independence/Self-care – This is actually pretty important. According to an article on Parents.com a camper should be able to bathe on their own and read the camp schedule. The group setting of Summer camp requires some level of independence, and if you haven’t seen them do their own bedtime and morning routines without help, then that might be an excellent place to start.
Ok, so you look at the signs and you think that maybe your child is ready, but you still have reservations. I found a fabulous blog post from Camp Wood about ways to help a hesitant child be ready for camp. Here are a few things you can do to make the camp a fabulous experience:
- Let your child know early – Don’t hide the information, that will do more harm than good. As soon as you are thinking about camp, talk to your child. This will give you both time to prepare and give your child time to learn more about the camp.
- Get to know the staff – They are trained and can help you and your child both feel at ease – and even excited – about camp! Also, take your child to visit the camp grounds. “Showing your children where they will be sleeping and how the showers are set up can ease their minds” – Camp Wood YMCA.
- Give your child responsibility – The experience will be so much better if they have a say. So let them pick out what they want to pack, take them shopping for special camp items – small fans, fun water bottles, new shoes.
- Bring a friend – Perhaps being away from all things familiar is intimidating, so talk to your child’s best friend’s parents and see if you can arrange for both to attend camp at the same time.
What about you? What are some ways you could tell your child was ready for camp?
Disclosure: This is part of a compensated campaign with Camp Wood, YMCA. All opinions are 100% my own.