At What Age Are Children Ready for Overnight Camp?

The day your child turns to you and begs to go to overnight camp, it’s time! Your kid may have seen an enticing ad or spent the day listening to other friends rave about their summer camp experiences. Or perhaps memories of last year’s dull and boring summer spent at home are what made overnight camp look incredibly attractive! The source of inspiration doesn’t matter. Excitement and expressed interest are the best ways to determine who is camp ready.

If you feel that overnight camp would be a great opportunity yet your child seems not to share that sentiment, find out why. There are a number of reasons or fears that may be causing concern to your potential camper. In addition to the general anxiety about leaving home for an extended period of time, many kids worry that they won’t enjoy the activities or they’ll have trouble making new friends. Whatever the issue, confront it head on and you’ll have much more success than merely saying, “Don’t worry!” Going away for overnight camp must be a joint decision between parents and the camper. No child should ever be coerced into attending, but very often kids can be encouraged to change their perspective once their anxieties are addressed and taken seriously.



Other Kids Are a Great Source for the Real Scoop

Other kids are a great source for the real scoop on overnight camps and how much fun it can be! A veteran camper with amazing tales is the most convincing source of encouragement. Set up a time for your child to meet with some camper alumnae of the same age, and ask them to break out the photo albums. Even if it was eons ago, your own stories of adventure and great friends made during camp can also form a strong impression and awaken your child’s desire to enjoy the camp experience!



Schedule a Preview Visit At an Overnight Camp

One of the best ways to demonstrate to kids what overnight camp is all about is to visit the site while it’s in active session. Many camps will grant permission for visits arranged in advance. A first-hand view of enthusiastic campers having a blast can be the ideal way to persuade a hesitant child. Seeing the camp and observing what really goes on provides information that is obviously accurate, leaving no room for your skeptical child to doubt the info.

Age Alone Is Not an Absolute Overnight Camp Criteria

According to consultants at The Camp Experts & Teen Programs, children should be at least 7 years old before partaking in sessions of one week or more at overnight camp. However, this number is no golden rule, as there are many variations in maturity and preferences among children. Some younger kids attend camp with full enthusiasm and integrate immediately, while some older campers don’t fare as well and take more time to adapt.

While age is not an absolute criteria for deciding who is ready for overnight camp, the age distribution of the rest of the campers is very important to take into consideration. Your child may qualify for a summer camp with a few hundred campers between the age of 7 and 17, yet if only two kids under the age of 8 are in attendance, think twice about sending your 7 year old. The whole environment and programming is probably geared towards an older bunch. If you’ve fallen in love with that particular camp, remember that your child won’t remain little forever. Perhaps now is the time to attend a different overnight camp with age-appropriate campers and activities, closer to home and with shorter stays. A few years later, your child can progress to a different camp farther away, with longer sessions and more extreme or specialized programming. Every year and every age brings a new set of factors to weigh into your decision about what’s best for your camper!